PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) – Around 850 gymnasts came to Panama City Beach this weekend to participate in the 17th Annual Edgewater Classic meet.
Organizer of the event and Edgewater Gymnastics owner Pam Kitchen said she was so surprised to see so many gymnasts come to compete since many have not had a place to practice due to gyms being closed because of the pandemic.
For some of the gymnasts, this was their first meet since things shut down.
“They had to train at home. They did zoom, we did that as well, but there’s nothing like being in the gym with your teammates and the support your get from your team,” Kitchen said. “And doing it at home and having that same drive is incredible and now they’re able to compete. I’m surprised that so many of them are here competing with the amount of time they were not in the gym. So, kudos to everyone and just the resiliency of all these gymnasts is just incredible.”
They have gymnasts from nine different states at the event, from as far as South Dakota and Texas.
The local gymnasts from Edgewater are competing as well over the weekend. Even though all of the Edgewater teams are undefeated this year, Kitchen said winning is not something they are focused on.
“We are just here to be together, to enjoy the weekend, however they do is what happens. It is what it is. They are here to enjoy the moment. They have learned that and they live by that,” Kitchen said. “It’s really not about winning, they just want to have fun. They want to be together, they want to be part of this event, they are a big part of it and so are their parents.”
The gymnasts echo that as some of them have more fun helping out with the meet rather than competing.
Gymnast Madison Ford said she loves this meet for many reasons, but one reason really sticks out to her.
“It has always felt like it radiates positivity, and its always been my home away from home, something I can escape to, to get away from the stress of school and everything. It just really brings some happiness and positivity back into my life so,” Ford said.
The meet started on Friday morning and will end on Monday night.