Kip of Faith

Every gymnast has had that skill, that one impossible skill, that, try as they might, they just can’t master. Even Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas had one, though it might not be what you’d expect…


It’s called a kip, and it’s on of the toughest skills a gymnast first learns on the uneven bars… The skill, which can be used to either mount the bar or connect elements in a routine, is a big part of just about every level of competition. That makes it a must-do skill. And in May 2003, I was failing at it. Big time.

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The Blood Wall Trilogy Part II

Hi, all! Welcome to the second chapter of the Blood Wall Trilogy. If you are wondering what on earth a blood wall is, please click here to read the first chapter here. Caught up? Good. Then please, sit back and enjoy part two: Tales of the Traveling Blood Wall.

There is something important I forgot to mention about the blood wall. There is not a blood wall. There are blood walls. Yes, plural. You see, the tradition began at my first gym, started by the optional team for reasons unknown. All of my compulsory years were spent at that gym, adding to the wall.


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Not a Gymnast…

“When you forget to pay attention in gymnastics…”

Ouch. We’ve all done it, but still, that’ll ache for a few days…


Try and find one gymnast who hasn’t had at least one MRI, had his or her feet in a boot at least twice or won’t have back problems for the rest of his or her life. You won’t. Also for fun try and find a gymnast that will actually admit he or she is injured, again, you’ll have no luck.

    – Sophia Scazzero, Cornell Sun

So a gymnast walks into a vault…

“You can always tell a vault specialist by her thighs – poor child looks like an East German powerlifter who wandered into a midget ballet recital.”

 — gymnastjess,

Shawn Johnson vs. Her Doctor

Shawn Johnson

After going to four doctors to avoid a 12-week casting of her leg for stress fractures, Shawn had had enough:

“I want this off, please,” I said sweetly. I was hoping he might not realize that it had been on only a week. 

“Nice try,” he said. “I want you to participate as much as anyone, but you have to realize that our bodies heal on their own schedule, not the Olympics’ schedule. Your leg hasn’t had time to properly heal.”

“If you’re not going to get this off me, I’m going to have my dad cut if off,” I finally blurted out. “And he’s going to be using power tools in the garage.”

The doctor reluctantly agreed under one condition: that I promise to wear a boot and rest for a little bit. Though this was a minor injury, it sobered me. It had looked like an Olympics spot was right there for the taking. But again I was reminded of what a fickle sport gymnastics can be.

From her book, Winning Balance: What I’ve Learned So Far about Love, Faith, and Living Your Dreams.


Blood Wall Trilogy Part I

Chapter 1: Exactly What It Says On the Tin

At my old gym, we had something called a blood wall. And before you ask, no, that is not a metaphor, nor is it an Academy Award-winning slasher movie.

It was, disgustingly enough, exactly what it sounded like. You see, some people have scrapbooks with commemorative photos. Students have yearbooks, so they will always remember and be remembered by their classmates. The girls gymnastics team? We had a flipping blood wall.
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