“I’m never going to have kids. Why would I need to?”  my good friend Scott said, “These are all my kids.” All the coaches I count as deep friends feel the same way. We take such a personal investment of our lives, time, and love to ensuring that the children are successful. To be sure, not just successful in competitions, but successful in life. Learning to be good sportsman, gentlemen, kind, and appreciative is what we are really teaching…not just gymnastics. Liz the owner of the gym said it best, “On this we can all agree, we will all do whatever we can. It really is all about whatever is the best for the kids.”

Mark has been my confidant, co-conspiritor, and friend throughout the years. Helping to make over 60 state and regional champions in the last 6 years. Mark was awarded coach of the year two years in a row by his peers, both for Level 5 and Level 6. It is one thing for your kids to be the best in their class, it is another for your fellow coaches to recognize that you are doing something right. What Mark does is love. During this last season, Mark worked 90 days straight without a day off. He even did private lessons with boys on Sundays…for free. Although he was only responsible for levels 4-6 this year, he went to every single session during competitions. That means he went to Level 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10…every weekend, and each session is 4 hours long.

He was there to move the mats for each individual kid and prepped them both physically before each warm up and aimed their focus before each performance. Mark understands more than most that is is what goes on in a gymnast’s brain that is the greatest asset rather than what goes on in their biceps; mental confidence is everything.

In the last week, I’ve been training skills with the boys, but without a doubt, but in essence I’ve been training their minds. Assuring them with each skill attempted that I will love them regardless is they do well or poorly, whether they hit the skill or fall short, whether they need yet another spot, or they are ready to do the skill on their own.

We have 14 more practices till nationals, and all the boys are trying to step up their routines. But, they realize that come the day of nationals, whatever they do I will be proud of them. No matter what the scoreboard reads, to me they have won, and they have my love no matter what.

Of all the videos, this last one is my favorite, not because it is a hard skill (it is) but because this kid conquered his fears, and worked his butt off doing the drills. Everyone in the gym recognized that he was really endeavoring to push himself. Thus, when he hit the first one the I erupted in praise and adulation. I had to audibly signified that “we are all in this with you”, and when you succeed we are all happy because “you the gymnast” finally realized what we knew all along—you are wonderful.