Gymnastics, as with many other sports, is a year-round commitment, which often starts at a very young age.
Some of the Portage High School gymnasts began the sport at the age of 2. The 10 members of the team have a combined 90 years of experience in the sport. Of those who did not have previous experience, attending open practices out of season to further their skills was necessary, as there is much to accomplish in the short three-month regular season.
After a great deal of hard work, the 2011-12 gymnastics team qualified for the state meet for the first time in 37 years. Taking home the fourth place medal was a proud moment for the team, but the desire to improve upon that finish was the driving force behind this season. Expectations were greater and higher goals were set. The focus was no longer to simply place at the state meet, but to win.
Team members had a position to fulfill throughout the season. the individual goals of every gymnast made the team successful and united in purpose. Dual after dual, the scores improved; each gymnast pushing herself to triumph. The team won six duals in a row and the Pirate Pride Invitational for the third straight year.
Spirits were high going into the dual with Valparaiso, a team that had not lost a regular season meet since 2007. That was to be a preview of the postseason, including the state meet. Coming out with the win in that dual, and finally the last dual of the season, left the team undefeated in the regular season, and DAC champs.
There were still some skills that needed to be integrated into a few routines, which was a necessity for the tournament series. Although the team took second at sectionals and regionals, there was still hope and a great deal of confidence while at the state meet. Nothing could shake the desire and certainty the team had; and every girl, whether competing or not, was focused on the common goal. Little errors were left behind, and every routine was performed with conviction.
The culmination of the Portage High gymnastics team’s season seemed to come down to two routines. Those last two scores were the deciding factor of what color medal they would earn. In the concluding moments of a historical day, the emphasis was on those final routines. However, anyone who has ever been a part of a successful team knows that the road to state is not only based on the destination, but also the journey.
At the final tally, Portage took home its first state champion trophy in gymnastics since 1975. Yes, it came down to the last two scores, but those scores alone could not have won a championship. The road to state was paved by the hard work and perseverance of team members, and the great support system of family and community. The journey is enjoyable when you have sight of your destination.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion.