Tumbling Tigers heading to YMCA National Gymnastics Championship

  • The Franklin County YMCA Tumbling Tigers, shown here celebrating a first place finish at the Royal Invitational at the Keene YMCA earlier this year, are heading to the YMCA National Gymnastics Championship in Toledo, Ohio this week. Contributed Image

Staff Writer
Published: 6/21/2022 4:00:10 PM
Modified: 6/21/2022 3:59:51 PM

The Franklin County YMCA Tumbling Tigers will be competing against the best in the country this week. 

The Tigers are heading down to Toledo, Ohio on Wednesday for the YMCA National Gymnastics Championship, which runs from Thursday through Saturday. The championship is held at the SeaGate Convention Centre in Toledo. 

“It’s the biggest competition of the year,” Franklin County YMCA Director of Gymnastics Sam Shepherd said. “Everyone is super excited that it's finally here.” 

In order to qualify for nationals, gymnasts need to record a certain score during the season in their respective division. Eleven different Tumbling Tigers qualified, with those 11 coming from three different levels. 

While 11 qualified, there was still no guarantee the Tigers would be able to make the trip to Toledo. The cost is high, but a big fundraising effort enabled the club to afford the trip.  

“We didn’t know if we’d be able to go because it’s very expensive,” Shepherd said. “We spent the whole year fundraising. We went in with the goal to raise $3,000 but we ended up more than reaching that and raised $3,600 to be able to go.”

Most of the 11 gymnasts qualified for nationals in January or February, giving them plenty of time to prepare. The last competition the Tigers competed in was over a month ago, and to prevent the gymnasts from getting rusty, Shepherd has had them practicing two-to-three times per week. They’ve put in six-to-nine hours a week in the gym to stay prepared.

“It’s tricky trying to keep them focused,” Shepherd said. “We had to get ourselves in gear a week or two ago. We’ve been preparing for this for a while. We had our regular season going on in the meantime so they’ve had that regular competition throughout the year. Everyone is very excited. It’s been a challenge with kids from three different levels. They’re all working on different skills and different things at practice. They’re all focused on something different.”

This week’s competition marks the first time YMCA of the USA has been able to host its national championship in two years due to COVID-19, bringing even more excitement to the event. Over 4,000 gymnasts, family members and coaches are expected to be in Toledo this week, with over 100 YMCAs from across the country represented.

The opening ceremony is Thursday, and gymnasts get an opportunity to hear from Olympian Laurie Hernandez, who won a team gold medal with Team USA in the 2016 Olympics and took home a silver medal on the balance beam.

“We’re going to go down there and enjoy it,” Shepherd said. “We’re excited. There’s a big opening ceremony and we’ll get to hear from Laurie Hernandez who the kids are excited to see.” 

Shepherd is expecting great things from all 11 gymnasts heading down for the Tigers. 

“All 11 are equally amazing,” Shepherd said. “We have one person — Alex Wilga — who competes in Xcel Gold and scored 9.8 twice during the season. We’re excited to see how he does. Everyone is doing super well at practice. We’ve done really well throughout the year.”


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