My Life as a Gymnast

Growing up I followed in my older brother’s footsteps very closely. Every sport he played, I had to play. I wanted to be just like him in every aspect of life. We played a lot of sports as a children ranging from wrestling to youth soccer. At one point I remember being signed up for five different sports at a single time. To say we were busy as kids is an understatement. One of the sports we participated in was gymnastics. If you look at me now, it is hard to believe that at one point I competed at a very high level of gymnastics. However, over a ten-year period, from the age of six to sixteen, I was a gymnast. Gymnastics is a physically demanding sport and it consumed my life for those ten years.

During my career an average week consisted of thirty hours of training. While I was in middle school and during my first year of high school, I participated in an “off-campus physical education” program. The program consisted of six hours of gymnastics training and four hours of schooling a day. I would arrive at the gym, World Olympic Gymnastics Academy, or WOGA, the home of Olympic Champions Carly Patterson and Nastisa Liukin, at seven AM and train until ten o’clock. I would then catch a ride to my school and begin class at ten-thirty. I would attend the four major courses; history, English, math, and science, and return to the gym for practice at three PM. Practice would last three hours, on a good night, and then my brother and I would head home to complete our homework and get ready to do it all over again the next day. This intense training regiment taught me many things as an athlete. The best traits it gave me however were the drive to complete seemingly impossible tasks and my “ coach-ability” as an athlete. My training paid off and over the course of my career as I won multiple state championships in Texas and multiple regional championships, competing against gymnasts from six different states.

Gymnastics is a demanding sport. It teaches athletes mental toughness and gives them great physical awareness of their own bodies. I like to credit the fact that I rarely get injuries to the flexibility and body control I gained from my time as a gymnast. I think that I am the athlete I am today because of my start as a gymnast. It has done nothing but set me up for success in my athletic pursuits. My size hampered me from following my brother to complete collegiately and led me to a future in football. However, I have yet to find anyone at Colby College who can beat me in a handstand contest, and I will gladly take on anyone who wants to challenge me!

Patrick Harper handstand champion

Patrick Harper handstand champion

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