Forest Hills Gymnastics prepares to start their season off strong

Avery Koehler

More stories from Avery Koehler

Is cornhole a sport?
November 30, 2022
Offseason training at FHC
November 28, 2022
Is disc golf a sport?
November 16, 2022
Disc golf at FHC
November 9, 2022
Forest Hills Gymnastics prepares to start their season off strong

Last year, our Forest Hills Gymnastics team ended on a strong note finishing–impressively– twelfth at states. Before that, they finished conferences with a personal team record ending with a score of 139.5 and placing third overall. That then sent them to regionals where they again placed third ending with a score of 137.65.

Although the girls are returning this season with a great victory from last year, this new year will bring its own challenges. This year the team has two coaches who are new to the Forest Hills program, but the girls only have good things to say about them.

Senior Charlotte Stephan talked about how she appreciates the work the coaches are putting in to make the team not only stronger as athletes, but also as a unit.

“I love our new coaches this year I think that they bring a lot to the team that we didn’t have last year. They are really focusing on conditioning us so that we are starting the season stronger and won’t all be hurt by the end of the year,” Charlotte said. “They are also focusing a lot on team bonding and making sure we are all one big family which can sometimes be hard in gymnastics since it is a sport where everyone competes as an individual.”

Assistant coach Marie Clark is a former gymnast who is now going on her tenth year coaching gymnastics. She first got into coaching when she took a part-time job at a gym and quickly fell in love with coaching.

“I figured I was at the gym so often and I liked being there, I might as well work there too. So, after working a few birthday parties, I shadowed some gymnastics classes and realized it was so much fun coaching,” coach Marie said.

She then went on to college and began coaching gymnastics at a high school level. When she moved to Grand Rapids she decided to reconnect with coaching here and started working at Grand Rapids Gymnastics last fall. She then finally connected with Forest Hills in January of this year. Needless to say, coach Marie is a great fit to assist head coach Jordan Lytle and help lead the team to hopefully another great season.

“I am so proud to coach. I love the sport and am inspired by the gymnasts I get to coach every day,” coach Marie said. “I think I’ll be coaching for a long time because I love it so much.”

Coach Clark also hopes to work with the girls at becoming more mentally fit athletes to help them prepare for competitions and even life after gymnastics.

“As an athlete, you need to train both your body and your mind to work together. Oftentimes, gymnasts struggle the most with their inner voice telling them what they can or can’t do. So, in addition to training skills and building strength to prevent injuries, I like to check in with my athletes often about the mental side of things and promote lots of positive encouragement,” coach Marie said. “I hope to work on helping the gymnasts work through their own self-talk and combat that self-criticism we all have. My goal with my coaching is to help my gymnasts become not only better gymnasts but also better humans.”

The team has already been practicing and conditioning in preparation for their upcoming competition and the coaches seem greatly impressed by the skill the team has and are excited about what this season will bring.

“This team impressed me from our first practice of this year. I helped out last year late in the season so I didn’t get to experience this first part of the season where we are building routines and acquiring new skills,” coach Clark said. “I was pleasantly surprised by how well the athletes adapted to having some new coaches and a more rigorous practice schedule. I also was excited about how enthusiastic and driven the team was to create a team bond early on. I’m very excited about what this season holds.”

The members of the team seem equally as excited about this upcoming season and are also eager to have new coaches to learn from. Senior Abby Cumings talked about how ready she is to have this season with her team and new coaches.

“I am really looking forward to getting closer as a team and developing our skills especially since we have a new coach. I love how hard this team works while maintaining a joyful, humorous attitude. We never fail to laugh and can always lean on each other for support,” Abby said. “I also would love it if our team could go to States as a team again this year. Overall, I just hope that our team can be a place where everyone belongs and can perfect their gymnastics.”

The coaches along with the team members are setting similar goals to Abby for this season.

“My goals for this season are to get everyone to compete in every event that they can compete in as often as possible. With a team of our size, not everyone gets to compete at every competition, but I’d like to see everyone get to show their skills off whenever possible and be proud of themselves,” coach Marie said. “I hope this team grows close in their friendships and cheers each other on with that incredible energy they possess in endless amounts. And above all, have fun; we all do this sport because we love it and are so lucky we get to do it together as a team.”

Similarly, the team members have set goals for themselves and for their team.

“I am most looking forward to the team bonding and all of the fun competitions coming up this year. My personal goal this season is to qualify for all-around at regionals again and upgrade all of my routines my favorite part about the team is how supportive everyone is and how close we all are as a team and family. My goal for the team this year is to grow closer as a team and make it to states,” said junior Addison “Fox” Hoxworth.

The team is obviously excited for this upcoming season and ready for their upcoming quad at Kenowa Hills on Wednesday, December 14, at 6:30 pm.