Fighting Gravity without Attending Physics Class

It’s 4:45 Monday morning, but instead of getting ready for school, you are getting ready for gymnastics practice. Gymnasts are one of the least understood athletes in the sporting world. So what is it like to be an elite level gymnast when school is an extra activity? 

Well, those early mornings are a common practice at X-cel gymnastics in Cranberry, PA. According to coach Lindsey Stancil, she and her staff keep the athletes motivated through conditioning the girls to go past the “getting medals” or winning side of the sport. Level 10 gymnast, Jenna Germond says that her motivation comes through being set on her end goal, and remembering how far she has come. 





L-R: Harlan Tomlin, Mya North, Olivia Yarussi, Chloe Hoke, Jenna Germond, and Alyse Karenbauer. Image courtesy of X-cel Gymnastics

School for these athletes looks how it did for everyone else during the pandemic, online. Majority of these athletes are cyber schooled with their schedules being built around their practice times. For those that do not do cyber, they practice late into the evening right after school. These athletes perform highly dangerous skills everyday and don’t think twice about it.

Coach Stancil says in order to keep everyone safe, the athletes are taught how to break down the skill and work on individual parts before putting it together. Level 9 gymnast, Tiffany Dragisich, says that she loves the feeling of flying when she is flipping, and considers the gym her home away from home. These athletes spend around 40 hours a week in the gym perfecting for the future.

Level 10 gymnast, Harlan Tomlin says her mother was a collegiate gymnast, so she knew she wanted to be just like her someday. Harlan, Jenna, and Tiffany all want to become collegiate athletes after high school. The recruitment process is a long and hard journey that  takes place in grades 9 and 10. 

Coach Lindsey Stancil says, “gymnastics is not about how far you go,or what level you accomplish, it’s about the person you become on the way.” So no matter where these athletes end up, throughout the sport of gymnastics, these athletes gain important life skills about being themselves.


Masked gymnasts warm up for a competition. Image courtesy of X-cel Gymnastics located in Cranberry, PA.

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