Saturday, April 1, 2017

A Big Decision

Our beautiful daughter, Adah, has always loved to dance. She is also a talented and accomplished athlete.

She has been surrounding by the athletic prowess of her older brothers and has done an amazing job of keeping up with them in their activities. In physical activities like running, skating, volleyball and skateboarding with them, she has consistently held her own. She drew the line at participating in any organized way on a baseball diamond and left the hitting and pitching to the boys.

Her individual athleticism expressed itself through gymnastics. Gymnastics gave her a significant physical challenge with a bit of artistic expression thrown in. It also offered her some girl time with teammates who were likewise driven. With high achievement goals, the expectations she placed on herself and the demands of gymnastics practice, she was forced to leave formal dance training in the wings while she pursued her sport at a competitive level.

                          Gymnastics at Virginia Beach. USAG Eastern Nationals 2016.

Regional and national competition participation is an achievement. Adah accomplished both for several years. We traveled, we cheered. Her performances at meets were excellent. We were proud and we were all (athlete and parents) stretched in many ways. Then we began to be stretched, too thin.

Participating in competitive gymnastics is exceptionally demanding and as a family we began to reconsider the path our daughter was on. During that process, I wrote about those demands in this blog. After years of daily intensive practice and seasonal competitions, we began to re-evaluate her participation in such an intense sport. We enrolled her in a once a week dance class to determine if her love of the art remained and we watched, and we waited, and when we began to discuss the possibility of making changes, the tears began to flow. She admitted to the chronic physical pain that many gymnasts experience. She shared her questions and her fears of injury and uncertainty of being offered a college scholarship on one hand and of leaving so much accomplishment behind on the other. She also revealed her desire to have an opportunity to pursue training in dance.

At the age of 14, our daughter was making a long term life decision. She had already invested a lifetime into one endeavor. She had acquired skills and techniques reserved for the talented and dedicated. Fortunately, acquiring those skills and competing them had only resulted in one "minor" injury (a broken thumb) for her during years of participation. Unfortunately, it was taking its toll in many other ways. After years of investment, we pulled the plug on our daughter's pursuit of gymnastics.

Learning and moving in a whole new setting.

Hinsdale Dance Academy

Like many important decisions in life, the way was not crystal clear in advance. The decision to change directions was difficult and sad, as well as exciting and hope filled. This spring we are coming to the close of one full competitive season following this momentous choice and so far, so good. This season, Adah is dancing. It is an art that suits her. When asked, she has not shared any misgivings about moving on from gymnastics, not even in the midst of hearing of the competitive accomplishments of former teammates.

Adah is a beautiful dancer. There is joy in what she is doing and it shows. Of course, as her mother, I will always think that she is an amazing dancer, was an amazing gymnast and most importantly is becoming a most amazing woman.

So far she says she has no regrets. For that, we as parents, are grateful.

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