Flagstaff gymnasts focus on offseason training | Local

ZACH BRADSHAW Special to the Daily Sun

The offseason is in full swing for the Summit Gymnastics competitive team, but the athletes aren’t taking a break. The 11-person roster is practicing five days and about 20 hours per week.

The competitive gymnastics season is relatively short, starting in January and ending in April. But the offseason is a crucial period of time for gymnasts to work their routines on the bars, floor beams and vault.

“The offseason has to be a fair balance,” said coach Bernie Rede. “Summertime gives gymnasts a chance to work on difficult, repetitive skills, and I think that excites them.”

Rede recognizes the challenges of maintaining a good offseason regime — it’s a long period of time that requires mental focus. Girls can’t lose hope in themselves and must keep working towards the upcoming season.

That’s why Rede believes the system of levels can be an effective way to push girls to work hard. Each gymnast on the team is assigned a level of six to nine according to their skill level. Girls can test into each level as they progress in their routines. Each gymnast is using the offseason to try to get to the next level.

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Rede, who’s been coaching for over 24 years, said the biggest factor of success during the competitive season is simply hard work.

“It pays off; hard work everyday will pay off,” Rede said. “And the girls have seen it with past teammates who have come in everyday and put the work in and had great success.”

Each gymnast works on something different. Caliah King-Valdez, a level eight gymnast who took second place on the vault during last season’s regional meet in Salt Lake City, has been working her routine. Marissa Cadieux, level nine, meanwhile, has been working to improve her routine on the bars.

“It’s a full-time job for them,” coach Caleb Skolnik said. “Obviously they all have their bad days and sometimes they have really good days. But regardless of that, they’re putting in a lot of hours here.”

Once the school season starts, gymnasts will be in the gym six days each week. Skolnik said the amount of time the girls work at the gym is invaluable because it allows them to gain the confidence that they can compete at a high level.

“Going into meets, the gymnasts are definitely nervous, but they aren’t sent in blind-sided,” Skolnik said. “They know what they’re stepping into because of the amount of work they put in at the gym.”

Skolnik, a former gymnast himself, said he understands the discipline it takes to be a full-time gymnast. Time management, a strong work ethic and learning from mistakes are some traits Skolnik said gymnasts must possess in order to be successful.

Once those traits are learned, that’s when both Rede and Skolnik agree that gymnasts are ready for competition.

Rede said his goal as a coach is to train girls to be successful both now and in the foreseeable future, especially because many of the girls will think about going to college in the upcoming years.

“I want to give these kids the opportunity to do college gymnastics,” Rede said. “The window for that gets smaller and smaller as you get older, so it’s really hard to make it to that level.”

Rede wants to keep his girls motivated to continue working hard and compete at a high level.

Success can be largely dependent on how gymnasts are coached, and Skolnik believes that his style of coaching is effective.

“The way I coach is both hands-on and autonomous,” Skolnik said. “Sometimes I need to be hands-on with those kids so they gain the confidence to do these skills. But there’s other times where I have to take a step back and give them autonomy so they can have the competence to do it on their own.”

Although the offseason may be long, having coaches like Skolnik and Rede can help the gymnasts maintain focus and motivation for the upcoming season.

Both Skolnik and Rede are excited to see what’s next for the team, thankful for the character of the team’s gymnasts.

If the team continues to work hard at the pace it is now, it will be ready to take on their first meeting in January.

“​​Both (Rede) and I believe in all of these girls, and we know that they’re going to do great at competition,” Skolnik said. “They just have to make sure they keep their heads up high and just show off what we’ve been learning this whole time.”


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