PHRAGMENTS FROM PHYLLIS: A pause in the Christmas hustle and bustle | Columns and editorials for North Augusta, SC

A pause in the Christmas hustle and bustle

We recently took a two-day break in our preparations for Christmas with a short trip to visit our Greenville grandchildren (and their parents, of course).

Granddaughter Pearce, 9, was to participate in her very first gymnastics competition. She and her sister, Clarke, 7, have been taking gymnastics for three years now. At the end of last school year, Pearce was invited to join the gymnastics team, while her sister de ella was named to the pre-team.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. There were several teams involved and numerous age groups.

Happily – well, except for my having to get up early – Pearce, being among the youngest, and her peers went first. So she started at 8 am There were four different events – balance beam, floor exercise, vault and uneven parallel bars.

The first thing I noticed was the gear. This is not a sport for the economically challenged. Each girl has a practice leotard, a meet leotard, shorts and long tights to go over the leotard, a team jacket and even team shoes – they all had black crocs to go with the black and teal team colors.

And I have to say, Pearce was impressive.

As some of you may recall, I bemoaned the decision to shift from ballet to gymnastics three years ago. The girls’ mom, my daughter Liz, danced through school and into college. She was a member of Aiken Civic Ballet and was quite an accomplished ballerina. I had visions of her daughters of her following in her footsteps of her. However, Pearce and Clarke had friends who decided to give up ballet for gymnastics. So, after a couple of summer workshops, they made that transition, as well.

And Pearce took off quickly. Although I initially thought she wasn’t built like your typical gymnast, she has proven very agile and a quick study. (I suppose the latter should be no real surprise. When Liz was dancing, she was the one everyone turned to when they were unsure of the routine – Liz somehow always had everyone’s dance memorized, even if it wasn’t a dance she was a part of.)

As a result, I should not have been surprised that Pearce did so well in her first meet. She came home with three third-place medals, a sixth place, and fourth overall in her age group. She was so excited to do so well, as were her parents and her grandparents of her.

And more good news – the meet was a three-day event, but since it was divided into age groups, Pearce’s competition was over in two hours; the awards ceremony followed immediately at the conclusion of the events; and we were on our way to lunch by noon.

We compared the gymnastics meet to a swim meet on some levels. You’d watch your child for 30 to 60 seconds per event, and then have to wait for the other gymnasts to do their thing before moving to the next event. But there was one big difference – and a positive one, at that.

Swim meets are divided by strokes, so once your child has swum, you have to wait for every other child in every other age group to swim before they move on to the next stroke. The gymnastics meet was divided much as it is in the Olympics – while one group is doing vault, another is already doing the balance beam, and another, the floor exercise and yet another, the uneven parallel bars.

I can recall swim meets when my kids were little that dragged on until 11:30 pm, and they fell asleep between their events. (This was particularly true of the old Hammond Hill pool, which had only four lanes rather than the current six lanes.)

And my husband pointed out yet another difference between gymnastics meets and swim meets. At Pearce’s event, instead of suffering through the heat, the bugs and the lengthy lulls between events, we were inside a comfortable gym with seating provided for spectators, decent concessions and short times between our child’s performances.

Long live gymnastics!

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Finally, as usual, I send Christmas greetings in the style used by Sam Woodring for as long as he owned The Star:

ABCDEFGHIJKMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

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