SOUTHPORT, Fla. (WMBB)– Edgewater Gymnastics Academy gymnasts are once again showing they are #EGASTRONG.
In 2018, their gym was completely destroyed by Hurricane Michael. They overcame the obstacles that came with rebuilding the gym and claimed a second straight state title in 2019.
However, the team is now facing another challenge in 2020. In March the state, regional and national meets were canceled, ending their season early.
The coronavirus pandemic then once again forced the athletes and coaches to leave their home gym.
“This time I thought was worse because at least when we lost the gym in the hurricane we could train at other facilities and the kids could be together, but this time they weren’t together,” said Edgewater Gymnastics Academy owner and coach, Pam Kitchen.
The team continued practices via Zoom video conference calls for eight weeks. The goal was to keep the athletes flexible and conditioned until they could return to the gym.
“We had some of these girls, they didn’t miss a single Zoom… as a coach I’m so proud of these dedicated athletes,” coach, Anna Rodriguez said.
The gymnasts have now been back in the gym for about eight weeks and they are still trying to regain all the skills they had before the pandemic.
“They had to go almost all the way back to basics,” Rodriguez said.
Athetes said they are close to being back to where they left off.
“Not 100 percent, but getting close to being back to 100 percent,” gymnasts, Siena de la Torre said.
Although the gymnasts lost some of their physical strength, their mental strength never waivered.
“They know to be a good gymnasts, you have got to be strong,” Kitchen said.
Although the 2020 season ended early, the team still ended it with several accomplishments. Their youngest team ranked in the top five nationally. The new platinum level team ranked in the top 100 and an Edgewater gymnast is in the top 20 nationally individually.
“They did achieve without going to the state and regionals but we’re really looking forward to 2021 to defend our titles once again,” Kitchen said.
The gym is also taking proper precautions to keep everyone safe amid the pandemic. Athletes wear masks when they first arrive and when they are packing up to leave the gym. Coaches wear masks when they spot athletes.
“To learn skills without us spotting is difficult as well, we try and spot as little as possible so we can keep six feet from them,” Kitchen said.
The gym is also being sanitized throughout practices.
One additional reason athletes are excited to be back is because they are preparing videos to send to college gymnastic programs in hopes of continuing their career in the sport.
“It’s important for us to be back in the gym, so we can start working skills to be able to get into colleges and college gymnastics,” de la Torre said.
The team plans to host one of its annual meets, the Edgewater Classic at the end of September.