Times Staff Writer
Music plays in the background as head coach James Foreman and members of the Colorado Association of Recreational Athletics (CARA) boys gymnastic team play a quick game of tag before getting into practice Friday evening.
With competition right around the corner, coach Foreman has doubled the practice time so they can work on their routines. Yet, they are a little behind the eight ball with only our of the six events in which the team competes available at the Gunnison Community Center.
It isn’t a problem for the girls CARA gymnastic program, which only competes in four events. However, boys face the problem of two more events than Gunnison’s equipment can accommodate. But Foreman has a solution.
“I tend to be a thinker. I try to problem solve,” he said. “When I was a gymnast, I found out that the best thing for parallel bars is to stack up blocks, so you can practice harder skills without worrying about falling on the equipment. I kind of took that idea and use it during practice, since that's the best we have here.”
Additionally, since the boys don’t have equipment for the horizontal bar event, they use the girls uneven bars. And they use a “mushroom” training pod to practice the pommel horse event.
Foreman took over the head coaching responsibilities this past fall after serving as an assistant to Samantha Denham, the girls CARA gymnastic head coach, in spring of last year.
“I was a competitive gymnast for six years — all throughout high school and a few years before — practicing year round,” said Foreman. “After coming to Western I had missed gymnastics after being out of the gym for two years, so I had this desire to find some equipment.”
Foreman did some research and found out that the Gunnison Community Center had gymnastic equipment, so he decided to check things out.
“I literally walked in and was like, ‘Hey, can I check out the gymnastics stuff?” he recalled.
After scoping the equipment, Foreman learned that the Parks and Rec dept was looking for a head coach for the boys program.
“Things just kind of fell into place,” he said.
Once he became the head coach and saw the boys’ potential, Foreman knew it was a good idea.
“I think some of these boys have natural talent, and Sam did a great job as their coach as well,” said Foreman. “Since I stepped in they have improved a lot in events. Sam didn’t have much knowledge in the still rings. … That's our strongest event.”
Overcoming the odds
Despite lacking some equipment needed to practice, the boys gymnastics team has recorded impressive marks in their first competition this season.
“Our first competition went great,” said Foreman. “We had a couple first place and top-five finishes.”
For example, Paden Davis earned first in rings and horizontal bar and third in parallel bars, while Ian Baker had a fifth place finish in parallel bars.
“That was really impressive to see what determination they had,” said Foreman. “We had an hour before the meet started, so we focused on the events we don’t have here at the gym. These guys really wanted to get better which showed in the scores.”
Deegan Bennett is another gymnast on the team. However, he wasn’t able to make it to competition.
While things have been going great for the program in competition thus far, they do have one issue that coach Foreman hopes to fix in coming years — their numbers: They only have three gymnasts on the team.
“That's something I started thinking about recently, since I’ve been done with school and had more time to focus on coaching,” said Foreman. “I started telling the team to start bringing their friends in. Anyone that wants to learn gymnastics, I’m willing to coach them. I’m confident as a coach that you can come in with zero experience and walk out at the end of season being an excellent gymnast.”
Parallels with extreme sports
Coach Foreman also believes that gymnastics can help in other extreme sports — ones that Gunnison Valley residents love to participate in, such as mountain biking, skiing and snowboarding.
“That same mindset that you have in extreme sports is identical to gymnastics,” said Foreman. “I tell people gymnastics is 90 pecent mental, 10 percent physical. A lot of the skills they learn here they can take out to the mountain.”
One skill that gymnasts learn that could be applied in any aspect of life — or other sports — overcoming hardship.
“A lot of skills they are learning take time,” said Foreman. “You have to sit there and do it wrong 100 times, until that one time that it clicks.”
If the boys team can add more gymnasts, it also could help them attend more competitions during the summer. The team is limited in the number of meets in which they compete since most are located in the Denver area.
“Typically the parents drive the kids and we meet them out there at the meet. But that typically involves them staying overnight or driving back super late,” said Foreman. “I think if we got more kids in the program we could carpool and figure out a system that would make it more efficient.”
The boys will be back in action on June 14. They travel to Johnstown to compete in the Gymstarz Elite boys gymnastics meet.
(Brandon Warr can be reached at 970.641.1414 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
FUN FACTS — DIFFERENCES IN GIRLS AND BOYS GYMNASTICS
Girls events: Vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor routine.
Boys events: Vault, pommel horse, parallel bars, still rings, horizontal bar and floor routine.
Style difference: For boys events, the focus is on upper body strength, while for girls events the focus is on grace and agility.
INTERESTED IN BECOMING A GYMNAST?
Winter/spring and summer competition seasons for boys run about $230 for each season, while the fall season costs about $90.