Competition is still thriving in 2020

This year has been a challenging one for many people with a variety of reasons. Personally, my “work at home uninterrupted” time shrank to zero when all 6 of my kids began doing school at home. For the 5 teenagers I was mostly unaffected, but for my youngest who recently turned 8 I quickly learned that he would not be “in class” unless I was with him.

We have been working on finding balance and setting expectations so I can still work and he can get his class work done. There have been compromises but I’ve been learning how to teach 2nd grade math and reading. Most of the other material I’ve opted out of so I can have some time to work. During this time he watches clips from PBS kids on his school Chromebook.

Since the fall semester started I’ve been working with Virtual Stars and GymACT to enable live virtual competitions. These competitions have ranged from a simple back tuck contest to a pommel horse intersquad between non funded college men’s gymnastics teams.

After enabling a few of these competitions I was itching to get back in the gym. So I took my 8 year old son Willow and we began having weekly field trips to the gym.

Scott Barclay helping Willow do a handstand

Willow and I have both enjoyed getting out of the house and I had just enough time to pull together my floor routine in time for the annual Sun Devil Gymnastics ASU Intrasquad. As an Alumni I get to compete whatever I’m ready for, and this is something like my 15th ASU pre season competition so I’m glad I was able to compete.

Breeze Olsson and Kevin Riggle did a great job narrating the meet through zoom streaming to Facebook and there were over eleven hundred people who watched it live. I reviewed it today and they both did a great job engaging with the audience. My routine starts somewhere around an hour and 13 minutes into the live stream:

Below is a video of just my routine with no narration. 🙂

My contribution to the 2020 ASU Maroon Gold and Black Intrasquad
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Fun on Floor

This year I finally got to the point where I could comfortably tumble without seeing stars on every pass. I began basic tumbling again about 5 years ago, but my last competition on that event was about 20 years ago. When I showed my coach Scott Barclay my floor routine last week (first time all together since college) he suggested we have some fun with it.

Scheming with Scott

Before my routine I told Scott which corner I was going to do my Y scale and he told me what to expect when I do it. 🙂

A couple weeks before the meet I hurt my hand trying the Flowrider for the first time on a boogie board. So when I got to the gym the week of the meet I tested each event and decided I would only do Floor and Vault. Since I’ve been training new dismounts on Parallel bars and Rings but not on a hard surface yet it’s probably just as well that I didn’t compete those events. I was encouraged by my scores, though – 11.45 on Floor and 11.2 on Vault.

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Recruited by the Gold Team

This year at the annual Arizona State Men’s Gymnastics Intra Squad competition there were 3 teams again – Maroon, Gold, and Black.  I was planning on being with the black team again since my jersey is black but when I showed up Colton (the team captain for the Gold team) asked if I would be on the gold team because they had the least amount of people.  He also wanted my scores to count for their team. 🙂

The gold team started on Floor but I don’t have a routine together yet so I got to cheer on my teammates.  Then we went to Pommel Horse where I was eager to show off 2 new skills – a half savado mount and a handstand dismount.  The mount I had learned last year but wasn’t ready to put it into a routine until this year.  The dismount I’ve been working on for a few years now and finally did it for the first time a week before the competition.  Since the alternative was just a loop off the end which doesn’t even count as a dismount anymore (it did when I was in college which is why I never learned a handstand dismount back then) I decided to go for it.

I performed 2 new skills on pommel horse this year

After pommel horse we moved on to Rings which turned out very well for me.  I did not add any new skills this year but I’ve been working on my handstands recently which paid off as I improved my execution score and placed 7th overall with a 12.6.  

I placed 7th with this routine within the current 50+ member ASU team

Next we did vault.  While we were warming up one of my alumni friends came over dressed in a uniform and asked what event we were on.  Daniel Bronnenberg warmed up a bit with us but waited for the next rotation to compete on the vault.  It’s always good to see other alumni competing.  For my vault I tried using a “waterfall” start which I learned from one of my kids’ running coaches recently.  However my steps were off so I was just happy to do the vault safely.

Tried a new ‘waterfall’ start but I’m still working out the right distance

The last event (for me, I’m not ready for hi bar yet) was parallel bars.  I’ve been training a double pike dismount for about 6 months but I hadn’t done it on a hard surface yet (since college) so I opted for a layout to be safe.  

This was my ‘safe’ routine while I gain confidence with new skills

Overall I had a great time competing with the ASU team again and look forward to next year when I hope to place in the top 3 on at least one event.

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The bar has been raised in ASU Men’s Gymnastics!

I had a great time competing with the Arizona State University Men’s Gymnastics team in the 2017 Maroon and Gold Intrasquad. That was the original name for decades, but the last couple years it has really been Maroon, Gold, and Black because there were too many guys for just 2 teams.

My jersey is black so I chose to be on the black team again this year. The team score was driven in large part by one of the new members, Kiwan Watts (he placed 14th in the all around at the USA Summer Nationals in August), who won 5 events and the all around. But there were one or two events where the top 3 scorers were all from the black team. It always feels good to be on the winning team.

It’s been over 9 years since I bought a mushroom and Scott Barclay suggested I compete at the Rocky Mountain Open. After going there a couple times I decided I would focus on the ASU pre-season competition (M&G) until I could be competitive at that level (where Oklahoma brings their A team and the Olympic Training Center usually sends a few guys from the national team since it is close to the training center).

Now I can tell I won’t need to go to Rocky Mountain Open for awhile, as the level of competition at ASU is going up every year. With around 50 guys on the team now, sending 2 teams at a time to different competitions during the season, and someone at the level of Kiwan who is not able to win every event, things are looking better than ever for ASU Men’s Gymnastics!

See below for the videos from my routines at the meet. I’m excited to get back in the gym and try new things now that I’m in “off season”. 🙂

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40 is just another 20

For the past year or so I’ve been trying to decide on something meaningful to do on my 40th birthday. I know people who do backflips for every year they are old, but I wanted to do something different. Last year I started out focusing on a manna so I was hoping that would be it, but I pushed too hard in the spring and had to back off from that.

I had several other ideas like 40 circles on my floor mushroom, 40 circles with a moore after every 5 on the pommel horse, 40 handstand pushup hop half turns on floor, or a 40 second handstand on rings without using the straps. But when I dislocated my thumb last month at the ASU Maroon & Gold meet I had to shelve all those ideas for later.

On Friday (1/20/17) I got back into the gym for the first time since the competition in December. It was a lot of fun, and I even got to see the Illinois team practice as guests at Aspire while I was there. While warming up with the ASU team I realized I just about had my splits. Although I had been going through the front split stretch series weekly for nearly a year, regular splits are actually not one of the exercises in that series so I didn’t know how close I was.

For those of you who might say “he’s a gymnast, of course he can do the splits” it’s not that simple. All of the US men’s Olympic team last year did not have their splits (I know because I watched some of their training videos on youtube). Less than 10% of the current ASU men’s gymnastics team can do the splits. When I was in college there were usually one or two guys who could do the splits (I was not one of them).

There were brief periods in my life so far when I could do the splits, but I never had such a systematic approach to achieving or maintaining them so those periods were short lived. Following the gymnastic bodies program I am rebuilding my temple brick by brick. Without the pressure of frequent competitions (like college athletes have) I am able to take the time I need to build a foundation that will keep me safe when I play in the gym. Stay tuned, I’m just getting started. 🙂

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