Gonzales, LA – This recent gymnastics season has been a tough one for Gonzales based AIM member Kendall Knaps, who has been in the sport for over seven years. After suffering multiple injuries in practice and competition, scores lower than she is known for and setbacks in coaching staff, the 14-year-old gymnast has overcome the odds and is headed to the Southeast Regional Finals in Tampa, Florida.
When the season started this year, Kendall had moved from the previous level eight to level nine routine, which meant a large ante up in the difficultly of not only her competition, but weekly practice. Being one of the youngest level nine gymnasts in the group, she excelled well in spite of her lack of familiarity of the new routines for bars, floor, springboard and beam. However, the level of difficulty did indeed show its toll in the form of a fractured ankle off of a missed landing from the balance beam, resulting in the young athlete spending many hours with her feet in buckets of ice water and unable to train for and barely forecasted to be fit in time for the her first competition of the year.
“It was very upsetting, after finally getting where I’ve wanted to be for the last two years, I was afraid of the fact that it may have been too hard for me and that I wouldn’t be able to keep up, let alone actually compete. I’m glad I stuck with it though, and I know that one competition wasn’t my best, but I still put myself out after healing up, because I didn’t want to quit,” Knaps said.
After a few weeks of improvement and learning the ropes of her new athletic level expectancy, another form of setback materialized with coaching staff change. With a large piece of the puzzle that made up their staff missing, the AIM coaches had to step up to fill the gap and prepare everyone for their competitions and tests. It was hard going, and stress showed in less than expected performance however, the gym kept moving, and the gymnasts kept training.
“We almost thought that we would have to scrap the rest of our competition season, but we couldn’t do that to our girls, especially ones who are so willing to face the obstacles in their way. It was with no small amount of effort from I and my fellow staff members and our athlete’s seemingly unphased determination to place that we managed to make a season of it yet,” Shelly Weil, head of AIM Gymnastics in Gonzales said
After a few more competitions, during which Kendall started to improve both her technique and her scores, she suffered yet another injury. This time, it was an overextension of the muscles in her lower back that sidelined her for another week. After a short respite and recovery however, Kendall was back on the mat, and while easing into it again slowly to avoid any further complications, she got back to her routine once more in ample time to prepare for her next competition. At this competition, she would prove her tenacity for her sport and her unstoppable drive to succeed by receiving her highest scores of the season thus far in both level nine Floor and Bar routines.
“I’ve been friends with Kendall for a while, and it made me quite happy to see that even though she got hurt a lot this season, that it didn’t seem to make her any less ready to compete. I’m glad that even though this season has been really tough with going up a level that she’s still just as ready as she’s always been, and to know that all of us are going to Regionals after all the hard work.” Madison Averett, fellow gymnast, said