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April Jeppson: Competition will be different but exciting

Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

Last year many of the spring sporting events got canceled. Just a week or two before they were scheduled to happen, everything was forced into a shutdown. As we are entering this spring, it’s refreshing to see pictures online of kids at their dance recitals and at their spring shows.

April Jeppson

This weekend we have our annual spring in-house gymnastics competition. Years past we had the bleachers packed shoulder to shoulder with eager family and friends waiting to see their child compete. This year will be different, but nevertheless equally exciting for the kids participating.

The seating is limited. No bleachers this year, just chairs grouped in pods and spaced evenly apart. The competition will be in pods as well, each child working with a group of others for about two hours. During that time there will be an introduction, national anthem, individual events and then awards. We have our fingers crossed that the live stream is fluid and goes off without a hitch. However, between Zoom meetings and Netflix, I’m all too familiar with how technology can become glitchy, even under the best of circumstances.

As we’ve been practicing with the gymnasts over the past few weeks, we work on a variety of skills. Perfecting the toe points and hand positions they’ll need for each move, as well as sticking that landing and holding their finish so mom and dad can get a good picture. As I was working with some of our pre-school kids this week, I realized that their photos for this competition will look different, too. Many will have masks covering their tiny little faces and hiding their sweet smiles. It is what it is, but my heart kind of dropped at that thought.

My daughter opted to join the competition this year, and I’m beyond excited for her. There are so many life lessons learned while playing sports. Even more lessons if you compete. Winning and losing both have opportunities to teach, and this is why I think it’s incredibly important for all kids to be able to participate in something. In life, some days you win and some days you lose. Did you try your best? Did you learn something? Are you going to be better next time? I heard a coach once say you win or you learn and I just love that. Totally puts a positive spin on all outcomes, and I think you know how I try so hard to see the positive, no matter what.

The families watching the competition this year might notice all the changes that were made. Like all things, some may be OK with it, some may voice their complaints. I’m happy to report that my daughter, as well as the other gymnasts, haven’t said a peep. They aren’t sad about the bleachers, or the smaller competition pods. They really haven’t complained about anything. Watching my 7-year-old balance on the beam last night, pointing her little toes and holding out her still chubby hands — I got a little teary eyed. I feel so blessed that we are able to provide this opportunity for our youth. They are excited for an opportunity to try their best and show off their skills, and I’m excited for them.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams. Her column appears every Saturday.