Olympic Gold 2024?


About a month ago, we received an email from Tia’s gymnastics facility inviting her to be a part of an advanced developmental team.  The idea is that for the next year and a half, she and several other advnaced 5-7 year olds will learn bigger and harder skills with the goal of entering into competitive gymnastics.

The decision for whether or not to do this turned into quite a big deal for Lee and I.  We stressed and prayed and talked to a lot of people about whether or not we should allow her to participate in this class.


The training schedule for this program is not overly strenuous.  It’s only 3.5 hours a week of gym time.  But Tia is also only 5 and we didn’t want to push her into something too early.  For over a year, Tia has been in a preschool aged class and she has been far too advanced for the group.  While most of the girls in that class were still trying to figure out what foot to put in front to successfully turn a cartwheel, Tia was performing running round off’s with almost perfect precision.

She’s kind of a natural.

Try not to be jealous of the art that is this photo. It's like you're there watching, isn't it?  Ah, who're we kidding - I stink at indoor photography.

Try not to be jealous of the art that is this photo. It's like you're there watching, isn't it? Ah, who're we kidding - I stink at indoor photography.

On the other hand, Lee and I are fairly certain that gymnastics is not a long term sport for Tia, mainly because she’s going to be too tall.  As a former competitive gymnast and gymnastics coach myself, I have a bit of experience with this sport.  I thought an opportunity like this for my daughter would thrill me, and it did.  But it also terrified me!  One of the questions Lee and I wrestled through was this:  Tia will likely outgrow this sport by the time she is a preteen, so do we need to waste the time and money on training for something that she won’t be able to do long term?

"Take my picture wike I won da gold medal, Mom!"

"Take my picture wike I won da gold medal, Mom!"

Ultimately we decided to give her the chance to try it out.  We’re trying it for two months.  The practices are twice weekly and yes, it means our schedule just got a little crazier given that baseball season has also recently begun.  Even if she doesn’t do gymnastics past the fifth grade, the skills she is learning will serve her in any sport she chooses.  She’s learning strength, coordination, flexibility and discipline.

Plus, she’s pretty excited that within a few months she’ll be doing back flips on the trampoline.

So we’ll see what happens.  At the end of May we’ll decide if we’re going to continue with this program or just put her in an advanced class without the goal of competition.  This may disappoint the boys who spent the evening last night doing what boys to best.

Watching girls.




  1. Don’t tell anybody, but I’ve recently started watching “Make it or Break it” on Netflix. So I’m practically a competitive gymnastics expert now… 🙂

  2. Your secret’s safe with me. If you lived closer I’d secretly sneak over and watcu it with you. Sshhhh…


  3. I laughed outloud about the “boys watching girls”…I have raised 3 of them myself and know that that is SOOOOO true! It is a sport they excell at! 🙂 (though, thankfully, mine have learned great self discipline from their father who is CAREFUL about where he lets his eyes ‘wander’.)

  4. Rebecca Elam says

    Kelly – I spent most of my childhood in the gym. I practiced 3 1/2 hours a day, 6 days a week, competed on Sundays and was ranked 6th in the country. If you’d like to chat about the pros and cons and the reason gymnasts (including myself at 4’11”) are so short let me know. My doctor explained that the weight training that went along with my daily workouts stunted my growth by shortening my muscles. Elisabeth, who will be 5 this month, tried gymnastics also but it turns out she was terrible at it. She’s a swimmer. I’m sort of relieved. lol!

  5. Rebecca-
    Thanks. We are taking this slow and have no desire to push her into heavy competition. For now she just wants to have fun and as long as she’s having fun, we’ll continue. But we’re also planning on letting her try other things and find her niche. It’s all very hard to decide but we’re moving slow. 🙂 thanks for your perspective and wisdom!

  6. You have come to the right decision – to let Tia do the program. She likes it at the moment, she is excited and that is the main thing. It makes her happy and it is important for now. The the time will show the next steps you should take. Hugs to a little gymnast.

  7. Marcia says

    Rebecca, my daughter is 11 and has done tumbling for one year and gymnastics for one year (just one hour per week). Her teacher wants her to start competitive gymnastics which will be 5 hour a week practice and 1-2 meets per month for five months of the year. Is this amount anything I should be concerned about with her growth? I realize it doesn’t compare to what you were doing. She really wants to do it.

  8. Marcia,

    I spent two years coaching gymnastics at the highlest level gym in America where both Carly PAtterson and Nastia Liukin trained. Unless your daughter is training 30-40 hours.week like those girls were, she won’t have any problems. The growth stunting happens when the girls begin doing massive amounts of training and conditioning before their muslces and bones have had a chance to lengthen out. But the small amount of training that your daughter, and mine, are doing will not have the same effect. Good luck to your girl!