Friday, May 14, 2010

When an Interest Becomes an Obsession......

A blog is not only a nice place to record one's thoughts, it's also a great place to let people know something that is too awkward to talk about. I haven't told anyone about this. Not my sisters, not Lawanda the Warrior Princess, not Sweet Girl, and certainly not Hubby.

And I don't even know why it's awkward. Or why I'm embarrassed about it.

Maybe the fact that I AM embarrassed about it is an indication that I SHOULD be embarrassed.


The fact that I have become obsessed with gymnastics has been well documented on this blog. And in many (most?) of the conversations I've had with many (most?) of my friends.

It's not just that I like to watch gymnastics. It's that I want to UNDERSTAND it. I don't want to be able to identify a wolf jump or a sheep jump or a tkatchev or a Yurchenko because I have the misguided idea that it might IMPRESS someone.

I want to know it just because I want to know it. It is the desire to learn that motivates me. If I ever master gymnastics, God only knows what I will take on next.

To that end (the one of mastering gymnastics, I mean).......

And no, I haven't decided to take up the sport myself at the age of (almost) 50.

I have decided to become a gymnastics judge.

I first became intrigued by the idea when a read a blog by a well-known former NCAA gymnastics coach who has retired (ahem). She wrote a very coherent (for her) piece about judges and her respect for them, and she detailed what they have to go through in order to become judges. She piqued my interest when she said that judges come from all walks of life, and some of them don't even have a gymnastics background. They just have a passion for the sport. I certainly meet both of those criteria. She also made the statement that the requirements for becoming a judge are the same as or more than the requirements for a bachelor's degree. Well......not really. Not at the beginning.

I bounced the idea around in my head for a while, and finally I contacted the person at the state level who would know about such things. I was astounded at her response.

"Oh, you just have to memorize the level 5-6 compulsories and take a 50-question multiple choice test. The next test in Atlanta is in June; I think you'll be ready for it."

It seems a weird order of things to me. You take the test, you become a member of USA Gymnastics, you have a background check, you have to pass a safety and risk management course (offered online), and then you're a judge.


I'm already learning. Levels 5-6 are the first competitive levels, and apparently every gymnast does the same thing. Same skills, same order, same execution. Honestly, it sounds boring, but you have to start somewhere. I ordered the DVD in addition to the book describing the compulsories because I'm such a visual person.

I am already a little - make that a lot - intimidated by the list of deductions for each skill on each apparatus. But hey - I only received the compulsories book yesterday. I've done the introduction to the safety course, and I only have a month to finish the rest of it. I'm thinking the August test will be a better choice than the June one. The June test is only 5 weeks away, and two of those I will be gone.

I am by no means stupid enough to think that this time next year (or ANY year for that matter) I will be the head judge at the NCAA national gymnastics championships. I may never judge a competition of ANY kind, and if I do it will likely be the cute little things who are probably more interested in how the bow in their hair looks.

Whew. That feels better, to get it off my chest (finally). I feel like I have just confessed a terrible crime. Or at the vest least a sin. Why is that?


Maggie said...

Ummmmmm, I've sort of wondered for a few years why you weren't already a judge or a coach. I was afraid to ask. I think it's great you're doing something I think you should've done a long time ago. But what the heck do I know about what you should've done?!?

So, congrats, good luck and I bet you'll be awesome. I'd give you a 10! (or a 17...)

Anonymous said...

I think that's awesome! I would totally come watch you be all judgmental on skinny little gymnasts!