A letter Campbell E received in kindergarten inviting her to join a team started her on the path to gymnastics. When she was six years old, Ava B, whose mom had been a cheerleader at school, encouraged her to join a gymnastics competition team. Fast forward to 2021, they’re both still committed to the sport, and that kind of long-term commitment requires sacrifice.
“The biggest challenge for me has been probably missing out on all kinds of things because I was always going to practice - like I couldn't do things with my family or friends sometimes. There’s also a lot of frustration with performing gymnastics in terms of falling and timing, but I have learned to just get up and keep going,” Campbell said.
Campbell and her teammate Ava Bautch compete in all four gymnastics events: bars, vault, floor, and beam, although Ava favors competing in floor and learning new skills on bars. Both level 10 athletes – the highest level within the club – they are also team leaders.
“Campbell and I have actually been like sisters since I met her about seven years ago, and we have always been together progressing through the levels. We were level 4 when I came to Crenshaw Athletic Club’s team, and now we are together competing in our second year of level 10,” Ava said.
Ava agrees that the time commitment is a major challenge, but also acknowledges the mental aspect of being an athlete in the sport.
“For me and many others, the fear of getting hurt is the biggest of all, as we know how dangerous everything we do can be. Tied with the time commitment, the more we miss practice, the scarier each skill becomes. It’s the repetition of each skill every day that creates muscle memory and helps us feel more controlled,” Ava said.
Both athletes are focused on continuing the sport in college and are actively looking for gymnastics scholarships. Campbell said her number one priority and goal for gymnastics right now is to receive a scholarship. Ava is hoping to continue gymnastics at the D1 college level and has been talking to schools and working hard in and out the gym to make that opportunity possible.
Being on the Crenshaw team has value on a personal level as well. According to Campbell, the team is large and yet they are all “super close.”
“I have grown up there with my best friends from all over Austin. I also have had the same coaches since I came, and they are some of the most influential people in my life,” Ava said.
Competition season runs from January to April and should have already begun, but the pandemic closed the gym, and their first two meets were cancelled, which has had a big impact on being able to get underway. Zoom workouts and conditioning sessions every day were the norm, but regular practice is vital.
“While with some sports you can keep up with techniques at home, we didn’t have the opportunity to do that as we don’t have the equipment and it is pretty dangerous to do work without a coach and proper safety,” Ava said.
Campbell and Ava are hopeful for a winning season despite COVID challenges. Being out of the gym for two months is the longest time Ava was away from the sport in the entire 13 years she has been a gymnast. Campbell stated that even though they’re back in the gym, things have changed. They now have to wear masks during their entire practice and wash their hands after every event and rotation.
The most recent plan is for a competition in mid-February.