PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – The Edgewater Gymnastics team found out Monday night at practice that they would not get to defend their state title this year as the state, regional and national meets were canceled, ending their season early.
“These kids are devastated. They have worked all year for this. It’s the end of the season, they’re in a good position, they had goals,” Edgewater Gymnastics owner and coach Pam Kitchen said.
“It’s such a bummer because these girls, they are the No. 1 team in the state of Florida, some of these girls had perfect tens this year,” Edgewater coach Anna Rodriguez said. “That is huge in gymnastics, that’s like unheard of. So for them not to get the opportunity to go out there and put the cherry on top of their season, it’s really sad.”
It was heartbreaking for all the girls but especially senior Payton West as her run with the team has come to an abrupt end with the cancellations.
“I was looking forward to getting to go to state and regionals and ending on a high note and now I don’t get to, I’m very upset about that,” West said. “But I’m still going to train in the gym and work out with my teammates because I love them and hope for the best because anything can change at any second.”
Kitchen hopes to keep the gym open for as long as she can, giving the girls a little bit of normalcy during this time. However, practices are a little different already, small groups and lots of sanitizing.
“I think it’s gonna be really tough because these kids are used doing gymnastics every single day. It’s their life. It’s gonna be hard to get through not doing that everyday,” Kitchen said. “But I think if we can explain to them the importance of being with family, I want you to do something different and positive at home.”
No matter what happens, the group is continuing to stay positive and #EGAStrong.
“By just saying what you think, we know we’re gonna get through this so that’s gonna be our reality,” gymnast Madison Ford said. “We are just gonna keep on working and keep on going harder and that’s just who we are. We’re always go pushing no matter what comes at our way.”
After all, these girls have been through so much already, this is just one more hoop for them to jump through.
“These kids are going to grow up and be some of the strongest, most capable human beings on this planet. They know adversity, they know diversity, they know how to keep marching forward,” Rodriguez said. “They know when things get tough they can get their chin up and keep on marching. There’s not many adults that can do that.”