Local gymnasts preparing to compete on their home turf

By Melanie LeCroy
Lifestyle Editor
melanie@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 3/25/22

Gymnasts at Eastern Shore Gymnastics Academy in Daphne are looking forward to competing on their home turf as the Alabama Optional/Xcel State Gymnastics Championship comes to Foley this …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Local gymnasts preparing to compete on their home turf

Posted

Gymnasts at Eastern Shore Gymnastics Academy in Daphne are looking forward to competing on their home turf as the Alabama Optional/Xcel State Gymnastics Championship comes to Foley this weekend.

According to Alabama USA Gymnastics State Administrative Committee Chair, Mike Holdefer, an estimated 800 gymnasts with 33 different gymnastics clubs will compete at the Foley Event Center March 25-27. The gymnasts range in age from kindergarten to high school seniors. Alabama USA Gymnastics will honor 21 seniors following their competitions throughout the weekend.

If you have watched the collegiate or Olympic gymnasts on television, you will be familiar with what you will see this weekend. If this is your first time as a gymnastic spectator, here are some basics. Competitive gymnastics consists of four events: uneven bars, balance beam, floor and vault. Gymnasts perform a routine featuring required skills and artistic movements that are judged and scored based on difficulty and execution. Gymnasts compete at different levels and are broken into groups by age at each competition.

Locally, the 19 gymnasts on the competitive team at Eastern Shore Gymnastics have been preparing all season for the State Championship. Their season started in the Atlanta area in January followed with competitions throughout Alabama and Florida. The State Championship meet will determine if each gymnast's season is over or if they will continue to regionals.

Having the Alabama State Championship being so close to home, Suzanne Hinkley, head coach and owner of Eastern Shore Gymnastics Academy, said it's an advantage for the local gymnasts.

"The children's confidence will be better because they are not going to be exhausted from riding in the car or sleeping in a different bed. They will be more rested, confident and relaxed to compete at home. Having a cheering section of family and friends also helps," Hinkley said.

The 800 Alabama gymnasts are all competing to earn a spot at the USA Gymnastics Region 8 Regionals or Region 8 Xcel Regionals. USA Gymnastics Region 8 is made up of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

"The State Championship is our regional qualifier, and the Xcel Region 8 meet is also in Foley this year. The kids are all vying for a spot at the regional competition. The top eight from each level make up the state team and then there are so many girls per region and each state is allotted a number based on how many girls they have total for each level," said Hinkley.

The last two weeks, Hinkley has been using her 30 years of coaching and 14 years of competition judging experience to help her gymnasts refine their skills.

"The girls are now at the point where I can point out the little corrections that could mean the difference between a 9.6 or 9.8," Hinkley said.

Spectators are welcome to attend the 2022 Alabama Optional/Xcel State Championship March 25-27 at the Foley Event Center.

"Spectators will have an opportunity to see many levels of gymnastics from the Xcel Bronze gymnasts who are just beginning to Level 9 and 10 gymnasts who are being looked at by college gymnastics programs," said Holdefer.

The 2022 Alabama Optional/Xcel State Championship begins Friday, March 25 and runs through Sunday, March 27. Competition begins at 8 a.m. each day and runs through the evening. Admission is $10 for age 13 and over, $5 for age six-12 and children five and under are free. A weekend pass for adults is available for $25 for the three days.

Stay in the know on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Sign up for our free email newsletter.

* indicates required