This year, Club Gymnastics Nationals was held in Fort Worth, Texas. We left at 9:15 Wednesday (the 11th) and drove to the Pittsburgh airport where we (thankfully) had a direct flight to the DFW airport. TSA security was slow, per usual and the airport food was expensive and as good you’d expect. We got to our hotel by six or seven and checked in. While unpacking, I noticed an interesting fountain across the street from our hotel. Me and my friend Ashley decided to investigate…
What it turnened out to be was this insane and kinda dangerous looking water installation that was part of the Fort Worth Gardens.
There were other pools and water features, including on that had cypress trees planted around the edge. Their knobby knees stuck up around the planting holes and had migrated to the edge of the pool.
After our exploration, we went over to the convention center for the open gym. That’s always hectic because its a free-for-all and getting an open spot on the equipment is difficult. I basically did like three skills on each event and was done. We walked around downtown looking for something to eat after our workout but it was like 10 o’clock and everything was closed so we settled on splitting a sixteen dollar pizza from the hotel.
Here’s how nationals works (if you already know just skip this paragraph): There are three days of competition. Days one and two (Thursday and Friday) are preliminaries aka ‘prelims’ where everyone in every level gets to compete their events. The two days is because there were over a thousand and something gymnasts competing and fitting everyone in to one day would be impossible. There are three different levels of competition for the womens competition: Level 9 (my level, also know as the “A team”), Level 8 (we have two level 8 teams. They are our “B” and “C” teams), and level 6 (we don’t have any competing at this level and the don’t have finals). Each level of competition has different requirements and is judged differently. Level 9 is the harder and level 6 is easier. After prelims are over, the top scoring competitors on each event, all-around, and top 6 teams qualify for finals which are always held on Saturday.
Anyway, the A team session was the first to go at 8 AM. Our hotel didn’t serve continental breakfast becuase its guests aren’t important enough to have free food. Luckily, I came prepared. I brought a bag of oats and a little container of butter and brown sugar to make oatmeal. There were no bowls or microwaves in the room but I had brought my collapsible bowl and heated it up in the microwave in the lobby.
The competition went pretty well. Beam was a struggle (but honestly, when ISN’T it a struggle). I got a PR 9.675 on bars which was super exciting! In the afternoon, the guys team competed and B and C teams competed in the evening. It was a long day. Luckily, I got to sneak away with my family+logan+visiting aunts and uncle to have lunch at The Red Wasp. I had a catfish poboy which was delicious (but not quite as delicious as the one I had in New Orleans).
My day off started by sneaking in to breakfast at the Hampton Inn where my family was staying. They had waffles in the shape of Texas.
After breakfast, we went to the Fort Worth Botanical Garden. (Logan was off in Dallas talking to a landscape architecture firm).
The gardens were nice. I took some pictures. There were some cute turtles sitting on a log that made me happy.
We picked up Logan and drove to Lake Dallas to hang out with my mom’s aunt and uncles. That was pretty cool. Intermittent thunder continually interrupted our conversations about gardening. On the way home it started to downpour and hail.
We got back to Fort Worth and decided to go to the Stockyards for a Texas barbecue dinner. Ashley tagged along. The place we ate as was called Coopers Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que. As you entered there were options for various types and amounts of meats. Half chicken. Brisket. Chopped beef. I got a pulled pork sandwich. This was definitely the best barbecue I’ve had in a very long time. It was messy, and flavorful, and juicy and delicious. Great now I’m hungry. Afterwards, we wandered around the stockyards and looked at the long horn cattle with their long horns.
A team had a meeting at 10 PM to decide on our line-ups for finals because, oh yeah by the way, A TEAM MADE FINALS WHAAAAT. (Line-ups just means picking who we want to compete for each event. These are strategically chosen to maximize our overall team score. In finals, we had five girls up on each event and three scores counted). But before the meeting, Ashley and I decided to jam out on our ukuleles over by the Water Gardens. Eventually, the wind picked up and the pollen prevented us from keeping our eyes open so we decided to head back in.
As is always the case, choosing lineups is stressful. You don’t want to kick anyone off an event but you also want to win. Thankfully, everyone was at least outwardly approving of the lineups we chose. No surprise, I was in the lineup for all four events. (Side note, I was willing to cede my spots for all events because I, myself, qualified for all-around finals, bars, and floor! woo! But they shut me down).
Before finals, we have a march-in for all the teams competing at nationals (whether or not they made finals) This year, there were over a hundred schools competing and a total of 243 teams (a school can have multiple teams that compete at different skill levels). It’s always impressive to see everyone lined up. (I don’t have a picture though)
When the National Anthem started, it was quickly realized that they forgot a flag. Luckily, one of the gymnasts had one we could use: (Photo courtesy of NAIGC Instagram)
Before competition began, we got to break two world records! One for the most simultaneous forward rolls and one for the most simultaneous handstands. I forget how many people did it but it was pretty neat!
Finally, the competition began! We started on beam which you may know as my least favorite event. Despite that, beam went pretty well. I didn’t fall at least! And neither much of the rest of A team! This is marked improvement over the six falls from prelims.
The rest of the meet went well so there isn’t much to say about it. I didn’t do as well on bars as I did in prelims (I got a 9.375) but at least I didn’t fall. Floor went better than expected with a 9.475. Vault is always the same. If I make it, I do NOT do another one.
We didn’t help with tear down this year for two reasons:
- because we are terrible people
- We forgot to sign up to help
So I actually had some time between then until banquet. I used that time to show Logan the cool water gardens. Also fun fact, it was colder in Texas on Saturday than it was in Pennsylvania.
Banquet rolls around and we all line up. Many of my friends may or may not have been slightly inebriated. We got food and sat down and talked about how we think we did. It was already established that we hadn’t made the cut for placing as a team. My family and Logan came even though I didn’t think we’d win anything, Awards started and not many of us were paying attention. We has some great wins for the guys team! Very exciting! I got 5th on floor which was also exciting. When they reached the team awards, we were all packing up to leave when they announced, “In 3rd place for level 9 team awards with a 108.925, The Pennsylvania State University!!!”. We screamed and ran up to accept our banner. I don’t think any team has ever been this excited to win third place.
After all the excitement, I said goodbye to my family and headed back to the hotel.
At 3:30 AM, it was time to get up and fly home.