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Young Gymnasts Keep Eyes on the Prize

1/30/2013, 10:30 a.m.

Kaymon Gerald, 14, a Level 8, earned third on floor and vault; Lena Gillis, a Level 9 Senior was first on vault, beam and floor, and second to Dominique Baker on bars. Dominique, a Level 9 Senior, was second on vault and beam behind Lena; and Tailor Clay, a Level 8 Junior, took fourth on vault and bars.

They maintain rigorous weekly schedules of four-hour practices, five days a week, said Alex Brown, president of Sportsplex Booster Club, the nonprofit comprising Sportsplex families to support all-round leadership development of the gymnasts, and support competitions financially.

"This is an expensive sport," said Brown, 45, an executive at Booz Allen Hamilton. With the number of meets athletes must attend to move to the next level, the finances can be difficult on one family. So, the nonprofit raises funds by hosting meets to help defray costs; coaches focus on winning.

Established fall 2004, Sportsplex USAG Girls Gymnastics Team has excelled, winning state meets at all levels. Gymnasts, ranging from 6 to 18, have been on the state team and competed at the regional level. The USAG girls' current competitive teams are levels 4 to 9. The boys' team, established 2006, has not only won a state title, but has sent gymnasts to regional and national championships. The boys' current competitive teams are levels 4 to 10. The Sportsplex Mason Dixon team, established 2006, is a growing competitive team with gymnasts who enjoy competing at meets throughout the season.

"Although gymnasts compete individually," said Karen Price-Ward, vice president of the booster club, "this is a team sport with lots of dedication and tough love from the Sportsplex coaches and booster club to see these young women and men excel in this competitive sport."