Last month, members of Mid-Coast Gymnastics in Selbyville jumped, tumbled, danced and flipped into the winner’s circle, earning a third-place showing at a national competition in Virginia Beach, Va.
“It was really awesome to get there and to earn third place overall,” said head coach Leslie Ziolkowski, who took over the program in 2009. “We worked the whole year for that specific competition, and it’s definitely rewarding for these girls when they do well and place.”
Since she took over at Mid-Coast Gymnastics, Ziolkowski has seen the numbers of competitors jump up dramatically — something she attributes to the program’s continuing success.
“When it started,” she said, “there were 11 kids on the team. This year, we have 54 kids throughout the program. We had enough for four full teams, and next year, we’re looking at five teams, with the possibility of a sixth.”
More than a dozen girls made up the third-place youth Level 2 team competing at nationals, which comprises participants 11 or younger. But success is nothing new for the members at Mid-Coast. Each age group earned at least a second-place showing in their group at states this year, and several teams have earned regional and national spots in past years, including the Tiny’s division, which finished in second place at last year’s nationals.
In preparation for nationals this year, the team had been working since last August on a routine to which material was continually added.
“We don’t want our routine to get stagnant,” explained Ziolkowski. “If you enter nationals with the same routine that you start with, it’s sometimes a little too easy, and we constantly want to push everyone and help them progress their learning, so we’re always adding to the routines.”
In late March, the Mid-Coast All-Stars fell short of their expectations at “Reach the Beach,” a regional competition in the area, picking up 10th place out of 11 teams and an honorable mention.
“We looked at the score sheets,” noted Ziolkowski of the time after that competition, “talked to the judges about what we needed to do to place better at nationals and, basically, only had three weeks of practice before heading to Virginia Beach.”
The adjustments to the routine and hard work from the team paid off, as they earned their third-place finish among teams from New York, Connecticut, Texas, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania and even Canada during the competition in the first week of May.
“There’s definitely a talented mix of competition from all over the place,” Ziolkowski added. “[At regionals and states], you start to see some of the same teams. New Jersey and North Carolina have a lot of great teams, and there are even really strong groups here in Delaware. We see a lot of these teams more often, throughout the year, based on where we compete.”
From here, the bar may be set high, but she added that her teams are always up for the challenge.
“Now that the competitions are ending for the year,” she said, “we’re switching gears. Basically, we’re constantly trying to find out what’s new and up-and-coming. The teams basically have a two-week vacation, but we start right back up, and we’ll go straight to next June.”
This summer offers the opportunity for new stunts, tumbling and jumping routines to be added.
An open house in late May welcomed more newcomers to Mid-Coast, though for those who are just getting started, playing catch-up to the already-successful squads could feel like a daunting task.
“We are starting up some new age groups,” said Ziolkowski, “and as girls get older, they’re working with different teams and new coaches, but we train hard and learn as much as we can.”
On June 25, Mid-Coast will send nearly 30 gymnasts to Florida for an international competition. Mid-Coast has participated in the event for more than five years now and has even returned with top honors on multiple occasions.
“It’s really nice to see talent from all over the world,” Ziolkowski noted. “Our kids really have a lot of fun with it.”
For more information about Mid-Coast Gymnastics in Selbyville, including classes and summer camps, visit www.midcoastgymnastics.com.