poem for a departed gymnast – from a coach

An excellent poem on a most important subject. Every competitive gymnastics coach can relate.

For gymnasts everywhere who for various reasons have had to move on…Hold on to all the good things this sport has given to you….and you will be courageous, focused, strong, confident, dedicated…you have been amazing…you will always be special…and you are ready for life’s challenges and adventures.

E-mail me if you need to know why I asked if the squirrel was blind

Charlie Amerosa


Just Like You

When we first met you were so little, too scared to utter a single word
Not much muscle and no split to speak of, as helpless as a baby bird
But there was a flicker in your eyes, a determined look on your face
And as your light grew brighter, your home became this place

Seven years later you’re a special young lady, with a strong and confident glow
And you have etched moments in my mind, some of which I’ve wanted you to know
Almost Three thousand hours of training, medals, podiums and now Jr. high
It has been quite amazing and sometimes painful, to watch you learn to fly

I would talk and you would just stare, your eyes wet and glistening
Not knowing what you were thinking, or if you were even listening
Watching you from afar, still on the floor when everyone else was done
Trying again and again to kick over from a bridge, to you this was serious fun

There was the stunned look on your face, after you made your first kip
And then the panic in your eyes, because what followed….your first rip
Watching front handspring front tuck, you landing on your behind
Finally you stood one up, I asked you if the squirrel was blind

Your working back tuck on floor kept me awake for a few nights
But you figured out the timing and I watched as you reached new heights
You would wipe your hands on your legs, while standing frozen on beam
You flew up and stuck a back-handspring, and asked me “Is this a dream?”

When you’re being coached hard and your eyes get wet, but you refuse to cry
When you’re excited about a new skill and you keep asking for one more try
When you’re not grouped with your friends but still determined to have a great night
When you won’t look at me as I’m coaching you and I know we’re in for a fight

When I hear the thump, you’re on the ground, but you say it wasn’t you who fell
When I see you drag a suitcase bigger than you are, into the lobby of the hotel
When you’re on the podium leaning forward for your medal, such a beautiful smile
When you truly expressed yourself in your floor routine, it made it all worthwhile

When you knew what mat I like to use, so you always made sure it was in place
When you greet a competitor you’ve known for years, with a warm little gym embrace
When your beam routine looked like an oil painting, you were seriously in the zone
When I see that frustrated look on your face, and I know it means to leave you alone

When I overheard two young gymnasts who were sitting quietly watching you
One whispered, “I want to be just like her” and her teammate replied “ Oh me too”
Then they darted off to the side, trying to imitate the dance in your routine
And I thought to myself, that is the greatest compliment I have ever seen

There have been so many great moments, and heartbreaking ones too
Your Mom’s face at a meet in the city, she has always been so proud of you
Walking perfectly in line with your teammates, you’ve been with them for so long
And they love you and treat you like a sister, to them you can do no wrong

So maybe you’re not as naturally gifted as some other girls may be
You’ve had to work a lot harder, you’re skills never came for free
But the results are truly astounding, in both your body and your mind
You’re strong and fit and focused, your stars are all perfectly aligned

But lately…I could feel that something was just not right
You seemed a little unhappy during training each night
It was becoming clear, you didn’t want to be here
And every now and then, I thought I might have seen a tear

I knew your knee was giving you some pain
The doctor said maybe it was a ligament sprain
But you weren’t working too hard, even after a month of rest
And I wondered to myself why you seemed to be depressed

I asked you if maybe it was about having some fears
And as you answered me, you had to fight off some tears
“I’m not afraid of giants if that’s what you think”
“I will be ok” you assured me, and you gave me a wink

And now a few weeks later you say you think you’re done
That it’s not in your heart anymore, its no longer any fun
“I’m almost 13 now, there are other things in my life”
And hearing those words, cut through me like a knife

I know how important your friends are to you
How it feels good to chat and go out at night too
I know the gym can be hard, some nights don’t go so well
And you can’t remember the last time, you rang the new skill bell

How your body hurts at night and the next day at school
How some coaches can sometimes seem a little bit cruel
But it’s being a gymnast that has separated you from the rest
And for years, after so much hard work, you have passed every test

I know I can’t change your mind, so I’ll take your picture off my shelf
Because this isn’t the kind of sport you can do for anyone but yourself
So you’re free from the hard work and pressure, now go and have some fun
But remember it will be hard to compare, to what you already have done

Please for the rest of your life, be proud of what you have achieved
And I will always be proud of you, and grateful for the gifts I received
The pure gift of knowing you and coaching you, I learned so much as you grew
Under “This is how a gymnast behaves”, the textbook shows…a picture of you!

You’ve been gone for a few weeks now and the gyms not the same
Your teammates are a little quiet, they don’t mention your name
Not because they are angry or disappointed, its just part of healing
You were a joy and a role model to them, they have an empty feeling

I’m going to miss you amazing girl, especially your warm smile
I’m sure I’ll feel better about it, but it’s going to take a little while
A new season is approaching, and of course there’s a new baby bird
And last night, just like you, the little one…didn’t utter a single word

Charlie Amerosa
Flipr110@aol.com

16 comments ↓

#1 CoachL on 09.12.07 at 1:42 am

good post. I have to copy this and hand it out to gymnasts as they leave.

#2 Dana on 09.12.07 at 11:35 am

Poem? That is a novel!

#3 Tarik Rammo on 09.12.07 at 1:56 pm

Wow…that really is beautiful…no other words for it.

#4 Gymnastics Coaching on 02.19.08 at 12:12 am

[...] post – poem for a departed gymnast – CharlieAmerosa [...]

#5 b benjamin on 04.21.08 at 1:39 pm

Wow! Don’t read this at work. I’ve been working on my daughter’s gym scrapbook for a high school graduation present. She was in gym from the time she was 4 until she was a freshman. I was browsing for a poem I had read many years ago and came across this and just started crying at my desk. My co-worker thought something terrible had happened. Anyway, I will end her album with this poem. Thanks for summing it up!

#6 Deana on 06.15.08 at 8:12 pm

Im a gymnast too and i thought this poem was a heart breaker and really touched my heart, the heart of a true gymnast.

#7 Shannon on 04.16.09 at 10:33 pm

Wow! This is beautiful, no words can describe it. I am a gymnast and I can relate to this and I can see you are a great person and coach, especially since you made this masterpiece for her.

#8 steph on 10.19.09 at 5:49 pm

wow, this is indescibeable. as i was reading this, its me to a T. this really reminds me of my life, and has greatly inspired me, thank you.

#9 Ashlie on 01.13.10 at 6:12 pm

Wow. My coach that died 3 years ago printed this out and left it for me to read after I won gold at State. I cried so hard and no one knew why. I love and miss you Dale! Thanks for an amazing poem Mr. Amerosa!

#10 Bailey on 04.13.10 at 9:45 pm

This poem is fantastic. It touched my heart and I will remember it for the rest of my life. I’m 13 years old and I have been a gymnast since I was 3. I recently had back surgery and had to quit gym. I cry all the time and I pray to god that I will be able to go back. I have been with the same coach this whole time. He is like my dad and I love him and what he does for me with everything I have. And I am just balling my eyes out crying right now because I miss the sport sooo much! Thanks for this. :)

#11 coach Rick on 04.13.10 at 9:47 pm

Thanks Bailey. It helps for girls to know they’re not the only one going through those emotions. Good luck with everything you do in future.

#12 nastigirl1234 on 08.01.10 at 5:01 pm

i am a level 9 gymnast and whenevr i have had a bad day at the gym i always come to this and read it and realize how far i have come. this is a rlly good poem! :) its rlly touching!

#13 gymnast7 on 01.16.12 at 7:27 pm

I am crying. This has touched me so deeply. Whenever I have to make a big decision about gymnastics, I go online, for quotes or other inspiring material to help me make a decision. I have yet to come across a poem that has summarized my feelings so exceptionally. Thank you so much for this. It really helped.

#14 Kelsey Thiel on 02.13.12 at 5:38 pm

I was a full time gymnast for ten years. Then I broke my knee cap at school. When the doctor told me it was broken and I’d never be able to do gymnastics again, I was crushed. Now I have been out of gymnastics for 4 years and I still feel like there’s a part of me missing. My 4 year old cousin does gymnastics so I gave her all of my old leos accept for the one that I wore on my last day of gymnastics. I go and watch her do gymnastics every week and it brings back so many memories. I am still able to do almost all of my skills stil. This is good cause I can help my cousin learn some of the easier skills. My cousins gym had an open gym last week and so I went to it. The feeling of getting back on the equipment was unreal. My mom and dad saw how attached I was when I got back on the equipment. After the open gym was over my parents saw how happy it made me to be back on the equipment and they both came up to me and said ” you really miss it don’t you.” And I said “yes”. Then the next day when I came home from school I went in my room and found about 8 new leos, about 50 hair scrunchies, and some paper work for my old gym. When I picked up the paper work and started to read it, my name, age, street address, and start up date was on the paper. I immediately started crying. After reading this poem so many memories just flooded my mind.

#15 coach Rick on 02.13.12 at 5:59 pm

Fantastic.

But be CAREFUL.

Do gym for FUN and FITNESS this time ’round. :)

#16 Kristina on 05.16.13 at 6:31 pm

I love this poem. I use to be in gleasons gymnastics but I quit when I was younger and I dont remember why. I have wanted to go back to gymnastics for a while. But after reading this poem I want to go back even more. I am almost 13 years old and For school I am writting a poem about gymnastics.

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