Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Look at them..aren’t they something….

Hey optionals, these are a few of your little teammates. You might not know them yet but they know who you are. They watch you in awe...to them your such a high level and your so amazing. Do you remember when you were 7 years old? They are doing ok but they are a little scared. Scared of their new skills, scared of the big gymnastics going on all around them, scared of their new coaches and scared because they are not sure how to behave properly in the gym yet. Do you remember that feeling? They are unsure of themselves right now and they need you. They are the future of the gym. Your gym. They are the future of your sport. They will be on your banner some day. They wear your leo. You should let them know that they are important to you. Can you imagine how that would make them feel? Do you know..if you went over to a little one and knelt down and put your arm around her and told her she is doing great and she is awesome...do you know you would help her gymnastics. It would give her courage and confidence. And you would make her feel so special. And she will remember you forever. It’s very different coming from you then it is coming from me. I know all of you..I know how you are..and I know if you made an impression on a little teammate, how that would make you feel. And I can't even describe to you how it would make them feel... it's priceless. They have a lot of little teammates who also need you. This is such a hard sport, they need you to be a role model..so they can learn how to behave and learn how to work hard, and fight back, and never give up. They need to see you succeed..and even more, they need to see what you do when you get up from a fall. They need guidance and encouragement right now. And if your a level 7, or 8 or 9 or 10..maybe you would think about it and stop for a second..and make a kid feel wonderful and maybe, learn something about yourself at the same time.
Charlie Flipr110@aol.com

The Magic Light

My friends are at home warm and cozy and getting ready for bed
But I have goals and dreams so I’m here in the gym instead
As they were chatting online, watching TV and eating lots of ice cream
I was flipping on the floor, swinging on bars, and fighting to stay on beam

Near the end of training each night, after we are done with our routines
We have muscle burning conditioning, like little gymnastic machines
I hated it and I was lazy, it just seemed like punishment to me
I took shortcuts and had a bad attitude because I just couldn’t see…

We are spread out across the floor, always spaced evenly apart
It’s quiet because we have to be focused and ready for the start
He say’s “get ready for V-ups”, and that means stomach pain ahead
It’s not the first or second set of sixty, it’s the third set that I dread

On my back getting ready for the pain, I was staring up at the ceiling
When the brightest light blinded my sight and I had the strangest feeling
“Why am I here, I’m wasting my time if I’m not going to give it my all”
Wow! What just happened, was that some kind of magic wake up call?

He barks out the count, and it helps to keep up the pace
I know he cares about us, because you can see it in his face
But he’s firm and relentless about our physical condition
Every muscle, every movement, every body position

First I get the burning pain then my muscles start to feel numb
But I have to stay focused, I know there is a lot more to come
My teammates all need each other, to keep up with this brutal grind
Because we know we would have to start over, if one of us fell behind

The pouring sweat is burning as it drips into my eye
And I hear a younger girl whimper, and that makes me want to cry
It is said that what doesn’t kill you, will always make you stronger
I’m trying as hard as I can but my body can’t take this much longer

He always seems to sense our limit, his counting slows down a bit
I dig in hard and finish the set, there’s no way I was going to quit
We all lay back when the set is done and the pain starts to fade away
No one speaks, we’ve been here before and we are all going to be ok

So that night something changed inside me, and I was finally able to see…
The effort it takes to be the gymnast and be the person I was meant to be
And although I keep this to myself, I have a six pack made of steel
I love how I look from all my hard work and I love how it makes me feel

What a great honor to march with my teammates into a gym for a competition
And hearing people whisper, “OMG look at them, they are in amazing condition”
It’s humbling to be admired by family and friends and by people we don’t even know And I hope that soon you will see the light, just like I did, one night, not so long ago

Charlie Amerosa

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Just like You

When we first met you were so little, too scared to utter a single word
Not much muscle and no split to speak of, as helpless as a baby bird
But there was a flicker in your eyes, a determined look on your face
And as your light grew brighter, your home became this place

Seven years later you’re a special young lady, with a strong and confident glow
And you have etched moments in my mind, some of which I’ve wanted you to know
Almost Three thousand hours of training, medals, podiums and now Jr. high
It has been quite amazing and sometimes painful, to watch you learn to fly

I would talk and you would just stare, your eyes wet and glistening
Not knowing what you were thinking, or if you were even listening
Watching you from afar, still on the floor when everyone else was done
Trying again and again to kick over from a bridge, to you this was serious fun

There was the stunned look on your face, after you made your first kip
And then the panic in your eyes, because what followed….your first rip
Watching front handspring front tuck, you landing on your behind
Finally you stood one up, I asked you if the squirrel was blind

Your working back tuck on floor kept me awake for a few nights
But you figured out the timing and I watched as you reached new heights
You would wipe your hands on your legs, while standing frozen on beam
You flew up and stuck a back-handspring, and asked me “Is this a dream?”

When you’re being coached hard and your eyes get wet, but you refuse to cry
When you’re excited about a new skill and you keep asking for one more try
When you’re not grouped with your friends but still determined to have a great night
When you won’t look at me as I’m coaching you and I know we’re in for a fight

When I hear the thump, you’re on the ground, but you say it wasn’t you who fell
When I see you drag a suitcase bigger than you are, into the lobby of the hotel
When you’re on the podium leaning forward for your medal, such a beautiful smile
When you truly expressed yourself in your floor routine, it made it all worthwhile

When you knew what mat I like to use, so you always made sure it was in place
When you greet a competitor you’ve known for years, with a warm little gym embrace
When your beam routine looked like an oil painting, you were seriously in the zone
When I see that frustrated look on your face, and I know it means to leave you alone

When I overheard two young gymnasts who were sitting quietly watching you
One whispered, “I want to be just like her” and her teammate replied “ Oh me too”
Then they darted off to the side, trying to imitate the dance in your routine
And I thought to myself, that is the greatest compliment I have ever seen

There have been so many great moments, and heartbreaking ones too
Your Mom’s face at a meet in the city, she has always been so proud of you
Walking perfectly in line with your teammates, you’ve been with them for so long
And they love you and treat you like a sister, to them you can do no wrong

So maybe you’re not as naturally gifted as some other girls may be
You’ve had to work a lot harder, you’re skills never came for free
But the results are truly astounding, in both your body and your mind
You’re strong and fit and focused, your stars are all perfectly aligned

But lately…I could feel that something was just not right
You seemed a little unhappy during training each night
It was becoming clear, you didn’t want to be here
And every now and then, I thought I might have seen a tear

I knew your knee was giving you some pain
The doctor said maybe it was a ligament sprain
But you weren't working too hard, even after a month of rest
And I wondered to myself why you seemed to be depressed

I asked you if maybe it was about having some fears
And as you answered me, you had to fight off some tears
“I’m not afraid of giants if that’s what you think”
“I will be ok” you assured me, and you gave me a wink

And now a few weeks later you say you think you’re done
That it’s not in your heart anymore, its no longer any fun
“I’m almost 13 now, there are other things in my life”
And hearing those words, cut through me like a knife

I know how important your friends are to you
How it feels good to chat and go out at night too
I know the gym can be hard, some nights don’t go so well
And you can’t remember the last time, you rang the new skill bell

How your body hurts at night and the next day at school
How some coaches can sometimes seem a little bit cruel
But it’s being a gymnast that has separated you from the rest
And for years, after so much hard work, you have passed every test

I know I can’t change your mind, so I’ll take your picture off my shelf
Because this isn’t the kind of sport you can do for anyone but yourself
So you’re free from the hard work and pressure, now go and have some fun
But remember it will be hard to compare, to what you already have done

Please for the rest of your life, be proud of what you have achieved
And I will always be proud of you, and grateful for the gifts I received
The pure gift of knowing you and coaching you, I learned so much as you grew
Under “This is how a gymnast behaves”, the textbook shows…a picture of you!

You’ve been gone for a few weeks now and the gyms not the same
Your teammates are a little quiet, they don’t mention your name
Not because they are angry or disappointed, its just part of healing
You were a joy and a role model to them, they have an empty feeling

I’m going to miss you amazing girl, especially your warm smile
I’m sure I’ll feel better about it, but it’s going to take a little while
A new season is approaching, and of course there’s a new baby bird
And last night, just like you, the little one…didn’t utter a single word

For gymnasts everywhere who for various reasons have had to move on…Hold on to all the good things this sport has given to you….and you will be courageous, focused, strong, confident, dedicated…you have been amazing…you will always be special...and you are ready for life’s challenges and adventures.

E-mail me if you need to know why I asked if the squirrel was blind

Charlie Amerosa

Thursday, June 17, 2010

5:00 PM

When you first walk in the gym
I look at your face, at your eyes
That moment almost always
Hints what the night will be like
Some nights it’s a warm smile
And then a firm handshake of respect
Some nights it’s a certain look
That means
“I need to talk to you
and please don’t expect too much
from me tonight”
I take it very seriously
Because you are in my care
And nothing is more important to me
Than your health and well being
Your state of mind
Your confidence and attitude
Your skills and your progress
Your goals and your fears
What you’re good at
What you need to work on
What mood you’re in
How much energy you have
Your bumps and bruises
And quietly I think to myself
How was school?
How are things at home?
What are you thinking about?
Are you happy to be here?

I know you don’t like conditioning
But still you force yourself
Because the coach asked you
What kind of gymnast are you?
Do you do your conditioning
Because you are being made to?
Or because you know its good for you?
I have told you
That it will make things easier for you
But not tomorrow
Or the next day
But it will
You won’t even really notice
But you will be stronger
And more confidant
And skills will be easier
I know you don’t like to run
Even though you’re getting used to it
But I make you run
To get your body warmed up
Ready to work
And more important
So you can take the 5 minutes
And think
Think about your night ahead
Think why you are here
Think about not wasting a moment
Think about making progress
Don’t let this night slip away

Stomach, arms and legs
Every night
And if it doesn’t hurt
Then you know
We haven’t done enough
And when you do a good job
With no whining
It makes me think
I should give them some fun tonight
After all their work is done

You decided this is who you want to be
And at that moment
You became special
No matter where it takes you
You will always be special now
Because it’s easy to stay home
Like your school friends
Do your schoolwork
And maybe a little hobby
Sewing, crafts and the movies
Your favorite TV shows
The 8 o’clock snack
Some people choose the couch
And it really is ok
You choose to fly
You chose long hard training
Night after night
And you could stop anytime
But you wouldn’t think of it
You live for the challenge
You could never give up
Because you are special
Because it’s in you
It’s who you are now

6:00 Beam
Can you jump harder?
Pull you’re split harder
Come on, you need 180
You’re landing too low
Get you’re chest up
Get up on you’re toes
Can you stop wobbling
Come on, think clearly
Stay in the moment
Body tension
Not connected..do it again
And again, and again
Can you get focused?
Can you pay attention?
And get your hands
Right in the center of the beam
If you don’t go hard for it
You will bend your arms and fall
And split the beam
And that scrape, really hurts for a while
And still..you have to hold tight
And finish the handspring strong
To get both of your feet on
And make it all look good
And confidant
And you know
You have to do it all again tomorrow night
And if you fall
You have to handle it well
Stop crying
Get up and do it again
Because you know
It’s the right thing
It’s how you behave
All the time now
It’s become who you are

I watch you chalking up at bars
You take a long time
I know you are afraid
To swing over the bar
You’re afraid of coming down
And afraid of ripping off
And afraid of letting go late
And if you don’t go hard
You can’t make it over
While you try to stay hollow
And fly off
At the exact right moment
And land on your feet
And stick it
You won’t get it if you don’t train it
You’re taking too long
Between turns
Come on grit your teeth
Get determined
You can win this fight
If you trust yourself

I know you don’t understand
What I mean about blocking
You try to understand
But I’m not explaining it in a way
That you can see it
So I show you others
Who do get it
And you nod that now you see
But it hurts your feelings
I can see it in your face
But still it’s the same one again
And I take a deep breath
And try to explain it again
Maybe a different way
Use a different drill
I try and understand
Why you can’t understand
And I tell you
Be different
Be amazing
Have no doubts
I tell you all the time
Don’t be ordinary
Make them sit up
And pay attention
Don’t slow down
Go top speed
Right into the board
No hesitation
No doubt
Trust yourself
Stay tight
Don’t pike on
And don’t arch off
Squeeze everything
Be amazing
And then one night
You hit one just right
You flew
Maybe by accident
But the look on your face
Was amazing
Because you really felt it
And now you knew
What I meant the whole time
And that fast
It changed
One vault
And now you were different
It was fast and powerful and tight
And it banged off the table
And it flew
High and far
And you planted the landing
And you felt really good

You run down the floor
You’re face so determined
To land on your feet
But you pull up a bit
In your front handspring
You hold back
You try not to but you can’t help it
And you land on your butt
I tell you
Your holding back
You’re not trusting yourself
Get up on your toes
Get your feet under you
Be fast and light
And at that exact moment
Decide to trust
Your natural ability
And let it fly
And finally you land on your feet
And the look on your face
Is just amazing...again
I tell you
Be more expressive
Feel the music
Train it so hard
That in the end
It’s a work of art
Like an oil painting

Sometimes when you’re scared
You tell me your ankle, or knee or wrist hurts
And I know it probably does
But that’s not what’s stopping you
And you avoid what your afraid of for the night
And sometimes it goes on for a while
But I know..if we don’t address it
It gets worse
So I have to push you
And just the way I am, I push gently
But I don’t stop pushing
Because I think if you put enough work into it
The fear will fade away
And you will move past it
Every time we go through this
You get over it
So I have to always remind you
Of all you have achieved
So that you remember
That you’re good at this
That you were born for this
And that all your struggles
And all your fears
And aches and pains
Sacrifices and hard work
Night after night
Make you seriously special
To anyone who knows you
And I know you
And I am blessed
And I will see you tomorrow night.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Beast

Homework is done, time to get in the car
Back out of the driveway, the gym’s not that far
Heading down the road, my stomach’s in a knot
What group will I have, do they know I need a spot?

Slouching in the back seat, staring out into space
I used to be excited, but now that’s not the case
Mom interrupts, “let’s go honey, we’re running a bit late”
I snap out of my trance, not feeling too great.

Walking through the door, my palms feeling wet
Nodding at some friends, stretch hasn’t started just yet
Put my bag in the cubby, then on the floor to run,
My eyes glance at beam, this wont be much fun

You see I’m level 7 now and struggling with a new skill
I’m not even 12 years old, but I feel over the hill
It’s the back handspring on beam that’s dragging me down
Haven’t smiled in weeks, have a permanent frown

The groups have been split, level 7’s to BEAM
It could not have been worse, it’s like a bad dream
As we walk on over, I stare at the beast
Of all the events, I love you the least

Coach’s eyes meet mine, “go warm up your back”
“What a great opportunity, to get you on track”
Does he know that I’m scared, having a panic attack?
I have the desire, it’s the courage I lack

It’s my turn to go, I’m trying not to cry
My eyes feel wet, my throat is so dry
As I climb on the beam, my mind filled with fears
I set to go and….get nothing but tears

As a tear hits the beam, I’m in a frozen trance
My heart wants to go, my mind says no chance
Coach says “get down, let me explain something to you”
“When level 10’s are afraid, this is what they do”

“They SET and they GO, they don’t stop to think”
“Their arms go up, they jump back in a blink”
“They tighten their mind, if they hesitate they know”
“The fear will get in, then they just won’t go”

“Use your natural ability, you’ll know what to do”
“You have to trust yourself, as much as we trust you”
“Take a deep breath, and so there’s no misunderstanding”
“The only thought you should have, is to stick your landing”

Back up on the beam, moving kind of slow
My mind starts racing, then I hear “Set…go”
Wipe my hands on my legs, raise my arms over head
This is the moment I always freeze, but this time, instead..

I flew up, arched back, my hands hit just right
As I fly over, I push hard and I fight to stay tight
And in an instant, and to the amazement of all
I had done a back handspring, I did not fall!

My teammates are all cheering, from coach a warm smile
I stuck it, I stuck it, I’m staying up here a while!
So the beast is gone, and now I love beam
It was in me the whole time, or so it would seem

Even though “SET…GO helped me, to get over my fear
There was something special, that I needed to hear
I knew all along, what I was supposed to do
But what really gave me courage, were the words “We trust you”

Charlie Amerosa