April Jeppson: Don’t be afraid to try something new in life

Published 8:53 pm Thursday, September 12, 2019

Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

April Jeppson


I was never a gymnast. I grew up in a town of 400 people where I thought gymnastics was something that only happened in the Olympics. In fact, I distinctly remember thinking, how do you even learn this stuff? I had no idea that there were gymnastics clubs or regular people doing the sport. I literally thought only Olympians could have access to this activity. Like someone would spot you doing monkey bars really well on the playground and then you’d get a letter in the mail inviting you to this secret society. Absolutely clueless.

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I was a cheerleader. I played softball and volleyball. More than sports, I really enjoyed jazz band, theater and yearbook. In fact when I was up north a few weeks ago, it came up that I coached gymnastics. My friends kind of spit out their drinks in disbelief. One replied, “Oh cause you were such a great gymnast?” I laughed, they laughed and I said, “I know!”

I use to have that sensation a lot when I started coaching. That feeling of, man if my friends from back home could see me now, they wouldn’t believe this. Well guess what, they don’t. After teasing me for a moment, one of my buddies chimed in with, “Yeah, I bet you’re really good at it, though, I could see that.” Then they all nodded and agreed that I was probably a great coach and that it actually kind of made sense. Within two minutes, they made me question everything I know and then confirmed that I was in the right place, doing the right thing. Friends are good like that.

I have nervous energy. I don’t believe anxiety is the correct word for it. It happens to me before I experience new things, and when I’m about to do something I haven’t done in a while. It involves my mind racing 100 miles an hour, the inability to focus and usually entails me pacing around a table somewhere.

Well I found myself pacing last week in the anticipation of our first week back at the gymnastics club — coupled with the fact that I was just made fun of by my high school classmates for coaching a sport I knew nothing about in my youth. I know they were simply bringing up the irony and not actually making fun of my abilities,  but you know how teasing goes. Sometimes it attacks your confidence, just a bit.

This week marks my third year as a gymnastics coach. I’ve come a long way from the gal who didn’t know the technical differences between a cartwheel and a roundoff. Even though I feel confident coaching, I still got nervous before this week started.

I kept thinking to myself, why am I nervous? I know what to do. And it’s true, I do know. There will always be things for me to learn, but I know that I’ve got this. And yet, no matter how many times I reminded myself that I’m ready and in fact know what I’m doing, I was still talking too fast and unable to sit still for very long.

As I entered the gym on Monday to set up for my class, a wave of comfort came over me. I effortlessly set up stations and guided another coach in my plans for the night. I encouraged my co-workers, made a few jokes (classic April style) and relaxed.

When I say relax, I in no way meant that I was able to sit or talk at a reasonable pace. I was still bouncing off the walls. However, now I could focus my energy. My nerves were washing away, and I could take that desire to pace around and put it to go good use.

This energy that I have allows me to multi-task. It allows me to monitor one coach as she leads the group in stretching, comfort an anxious parent watching from the doorway and envision how I want the beam stations to be ran.

It’s funny how our lives can twist and turn over the years — like the Mississippi River going miles out of its way to reach the Gulf of Mexico. I obviously had no idea I’d be a gymnastics coach when I got older. And yet here I am. So I guess this is your Friday reminder that just because you haven’t done something before, don’t let that stop you from trying it out. You might really enjoy it. Heck, you might actually be really good at it too.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams.