ST. JOHN | Hayley Butcher is glad she's back on the U.S. Trampoline and Tumbling Senior National Team.
Why she was bounced off it last year remains a mystery ... at least for her.
"I don't know," the 23-year-old said while shrugging her shoulders. "I thought I placed well enough in competitions ... better than some who made the team. I don't know. It was their decision."
Butcher was a member of the national team from 2009 through 2011. After making a valiant comeback from total knee reconstruction surgery due to a trampoline mishap at the 2010 Pan American Games in Mexico, Butcher put herself in a position to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics, but came up short.
Now, she's fully recovered and has reached a higher level in her career. At the 2013 U.S. Trampoline and Tumbling Championships held July 3-10 in Kansas City, Butcher won her first senior national gold medal.
"It came down to upping my difficulty," said Butcher, who was reasserted back on the team shortly after winning the gold. "It was a lot of work, and, yeah, it was disappointing being cut from the team. But it just made me more determined and focused."
Butcher placed ahead of runner-up Charlotte Drury, bronze medalist Shaylee Dunavin, and fourth-place finisher Savannah Vinsant, who in London earned the distinction of being the first U.S. trampoliner to advance to the finals in the Olympics.
Butcher wasn't the only Midwest athlete to pan gold in Kansas City. Overall, the MTIC trampoline and tumbling team earned 26 medals ... 16 gold, six silver and four bronze.
"It's part of the growth that's been going on here," said MTIC coach Oleg Fedosov, who was assisted by fellow coaches and former world class competitors Mikael Popov and Slava Marozau.
"This is the best we've ever done (at nationals)," Fedosov said.
Butcher is also an assistant coach at MTIC.
"But I wasn't coaching down there," she said. "I had to concentrate on what I was doing."
The next big competitions for Butcher are the World Cups in Poland, and the World Championships in Bulgaria, being held in October and November, respectively.
Competition for many of the other MTIC athletes will also resume in the fall. But for Fedosov and his athletes, the rest of the summer is by no means the "offseason."
"Really, this is the best part of the year for me," Fedosov said. "It's fun time. You get to work on getting the athletes to the next level ... teaching them new things, adding new twists.
"When you're in the competition season, you get into the same routine while preparing for meets."