If you know me in real life (or even just FB) for five minutes, I have probably shown you video of Funk’s back handspring. It is a source of endless pride for me, but for reasons other than how cool it looks. (Although, let’s face it, seeing someone who shot out of your vag like a cannon flipping across the floor seven years later is quite amazing.)
Of course it is impressive on its own merits– it’s something not everyone can do, and if I am being completely honest, the one thing that kept me from being a varsity cheerleader in high school. (On my head. Every damned time. Which is why you don’t send a ballet dancer to do a gymnast’s job.)
No, what really makes her feat impressive is how hard she has worked on it. Not just physically– but mentally. Like many things in gymnastics, half of being able to do a skill is being in the right head space. Funk had her back handspring a year ago. Then, she fell down and hurt her head, and her confidence. She lost the skill for months– would not even try. Then she worked up to trying with a spot. Even though her spotter barely touched her, as soon as she was on her own– she would fall. Then she had some encounters with her not-usual coach that left her full of self-doubt– convinced that she was not ready or able to do the skill.
She cried herself to sleep countless times, convincing herself that she just COULD NOT DO IT. I cheered, I thumbs-upped, I clapped, I cajoled from the sidelines. (I may have even repeated feedback I had heard her coaches give over and over. “BLOCK!”) Her usual coach cheered, thumbs-upped, spotted, and gave helpful feedback.
But no matter how upset Funk got, or how hard she worked, or how much I cheered, or how wonderful her coach coached… until her head was in the right place, it was a lost cause.
One day, she’d have it.
The next practice, it would be gone.
That doubt in her mind became a handspring monster, and it stole her confidence AND her consistency.
So, she has worked and worked and cried and visualized and worked some more. She has succeeded some, and failed some. She is learning how to not let that failure define her next attempt.
And it seems like we are there. She CAN do it. She WANTS to do it. And most importantly, she KNOWS she can do it.
It is stunning visual proof of her tenacity, her budding self-confidence, her ability to conquer her own ceaseless worry, and her hard work. It makes me so, so proud.