"Meet"ing Mary Lou Retton (kate's 2nd meet)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013
So, it is meet season.  Gymnasts train all year for a very short meet season.  I feel like I want to post about each meet but I am not sure if I should.  I really want to keep a record of how Kate does her first year.  I think that at some point she will want to look back and know how she did in the beginning.  However, I am sure most of you will be glad when the end of October comes and the meets are over;)

This past week the meet was at our downtown convention center. It was quite a set-up.  I did not bring my good camera and I really regretted it.  It was a very open set-up with much better light than the last one.  Harry was my videographer.


Kate's team getting ready for warm-ups.


Love this totally out of focus "ghost" picture of Kate running, smiling and waving during warm-ups.

Kate's started on the vault (which is by far her hardest element).  Apparently for vault, you need to run really fast.  Kate slows down when she gets to the Springboard.  She gets afraid.  The night before the meet, she did a perfect vault at practice (I was told) and her team was so happy for her.  She did not repeat that on Saturday.  She did okay and got a 8.1.  We did not get video of it as it was located at the back of the arena.

Then, they went to the floor.  Kate did well on the floor.  She got a 9.0

After the floor, Kate's team moved onto bars.  It is so funny because Kate really struggled with the bars when she first joined the team but now they are her best element.  She loves the bars because she feels they are the most challenging. Her team was so tired by now that many of them struggled to even get up on the bars.  I was worried a bit.  She ended up doing great and earned a 9.4!  That was the highest score I saw on the bars the whole session and top score for her team!


Finally, they moved to the beam.   We were sitting right in front of the beam.  I was so worried that she was going to look at us and wave or get distracted.  But she did not.  She stayed in the zone totally focused. All of our girls were kind of shaky on this final apparatus.  Their muscles were fatigued.  Typically, Kate does very well on beam.  Last week, she got a 9.4.  This week she did well but she was shaky a few times.  She got an 8.5.

What I am most proud of is how hard Kate is working and her determination.  She told me before the meet that she was going to get ALL blue ribbons (9's).  In the end, she got 2 blue (bars and floor) and 2 red (beam and vault).  But she was SO happy!! She does not know her scores and I think that is great.  She feels good about herself and that is the whole point (for me anyway).

Aside from watching Kate shine, the highlight of the meet was meeting Olympic Gold Medalist Mary Lou Retton!!!  Mary Lou gave each girl their medal and she presented the awards.  Our team placed 2nd out of 12 teams in this district qualifier!  We were very happy.



Mary Lou Retton giving Kate her medal.


Missed her arms up...slow old camera!



Mary Lou was so gracious and sweet to the little girls. She looked at Kate's scores and told her how good they were. Kate had NO clue who she was but we told her and then showed her video when she came home.  I was tickled pink to meet her as I have always admired her talent.  She lives here and I have seen her around town before.  In fact, we went to the same doctor office when I was pregnant with Harry.  She looks great.  She actually looks like she has barely aged since her Olympic days!

After, the awards, Mary Lou Retton signed autographs for the gymnasts.



She also auctioned off a signed competition leo and her signed wheaties box for charity.  It fetched $3,000.    BTW-- she was the first female ever to be on the Wheaties box.  First female US gymnast to win gold all around and score a perfect 10!


And to answer a few question--- 
Several people asked me on fb and in person if I get nervous watching Kate.  The answer is not really (surprised?!).  I am not too concerned with her scores at this level.  I want Kate to have fun and feel good about herself.  I don't think about or worry about her getting hurt either which is weird for me because in the past, I have been a bit of a worrier in life.  This past week, I was a little nervous when she was on beam right in front of us but other than that, I just enjoy watching her and don't feel too anxious.

Someone else asked me to explain the levels.  I don't completely understand them myself as we are really new to gymnastics.  This is what I know... at our gym...you typically begin at a level one. Kate was in level one for just a month but most people are there for about a year.  Olympic competitors are level 10 and very few people ever make it there.  Your level is determined/earned based on your scores in official US gymnastics meets and your ability to master specific moves.  Kate is a level 2 and will be a level 3 just after these meets.  So, she is a beginner. Her routines are compulsory meaning that all level 2's all over the US do the exact same routine for every apparatus at every meet. So, even though Kate can do more advanced moves she is not allowed to do them at this level in meets.  I believe at level 5 the routines are optional meaning you can choose your moves and more difficult moves earn more points.

If any of that is not correct, feel free to let me know in comments:)  UPDATED:  Doreen provides a better description in the comments:)

I promise to post other stuff aside from gymnastics soon but between back to school and work all I have time for is gymnastics right now!


  1. Wow -- good for Kate and her team! How cool to meet Mary Lou Retton. She has that same big smile and she does look the same as in the Olympics! Woohoo Kate and teammates!

  2. Hi Kim, I'm a gym mom, too, and my daughter is also from China! My DD will be probably be a Level 9 this year (she's 14). Lots of girls make it to Level 10 with most spending their last few years of competing there. Olympic competitors are classified as "elite" . . . a lot of these girls leave their families to train with Olympic-Level coaches. Optional skills begin with Level 7 . . . although the new Level 6 will allow girls to do so (the Levels were all restructured this year -- it's a little confusing!) Kate looks amazing! We have found gymnastics to be a great individual and yet still a team sport. My daughter LOVES it . . . she conditions and practices over 20 hrs. a week year round! Good Luck this year! Doreen

    1. Thank you so much for clarifying the information for me. I only know a bit and don't really know where to find the correct answers. I did know about "elite" gymnasts but was not sure what made the distinction. I have a lot to learn. Thank you so much for jumping in with the right info:) I really appreciate it. Do you ave a link so I could see your daughter's meets??? I would love too.


  3. I found your blog through the Chinese adoption community and have loosely followed it for a few years now. I don't have a blog to link to, but my son William was a competitive gymnast for 5 years, so I wanted to encourage you to post as much about your daughter's meets as you want to. People who are not involved in this sport, don't always understand the amount of work and commitment these young children put in in the gym--they have so much fun, but they work HARD. These meets are the only brief showcase you have for an entire year of lots of completely unglamorous sweat equity, and it is entirely right for you to want to keep a record of these moments!

    Good luck to Kate this year!

    (a fellow proud gym mom)

    1. thank you Michelle!!! You are so right. They do work SO SO hard. Thank you for your kind comment!!


  4. Way to go Kate!
    Our girls are also in gymnastics, they are in the gym 3 nights a week for 3 hours or a little more. The oldest 2 compete and love it! They would have loved seeing Mary Lou Retton! That is awesome. THey went to camp in Oklahoma this summer at Bart Connors'gym and loved it- they also got to meet him and his wife, Nadia Comaneci. Our youngest daughter (born in China) has an upper limb difference but has started in the early class and our coach think someday she will be able to compete as well:)
    Our season doesn't start until January here and last through the spring.

  5. Don't feel bad about posting! I used to be a gymnast [i never did competitions as my religion wouldn't allow me to go to meets on saturday] but I am a cheerleader in high school..none of that pom pom sideline cheer, but the serious allstar cheerleading [look it up on youtube] I love reading about her meets and I love watching her improve! [It might sound weird but I promise I'm not weird!] I wish Kate the best in her next meets and I hope she continues to have fun! [it's no fun once they start worrying about scores and the competitiveness comes out] How long does she practice for? I [currently] practice for about 3 hours 3 times a week but we don't go to competitions, instead we just do performances 3 times a year. 1 in november [in texas] for acrofest at southwestern university [november 6-9] and then we have a week-long tour we go on to different schools in our area [that's in february], then we close the year with our homeshow at the school sometime in may. I included the name of the college in case you wanted to show up. I'm not sure how far ya'll live from there, but it would be an awesome experience for kate if she wanted to see it. [I'm sure she's more skilled than some of the athletes [as we are all learning in high school or older]

  6. Kim, you post AS much as you want!!!! I am loving the videos of Kate. She is awesome!!!!! My little one is at level two, her second go round. She is not as strong as Kate. But she works hard and loves it too. It's all about feeling good. I agree with you!! I did gymnastics for years as a child and loved loved loved it!!!!!!!! Go Kate!!!

  7. Oh I am so jealous! I went through a very serious Mary Lou phase when I was Kate's age. Like I had it all and wore my leo to the gym every chance I could get. She was definitely a childhood hero for me!

    Actually, when I was in the JL DC, I was one of Kerri Strug's New Member advisors. Let's just say I was not as enamored with her as I still am with Mary Lou.


  8. Oh my word that Kate really is a natural!!!!!!! she looks like she has been training for years!! Spectacular! congratulations and what a treat to meet Mary Lou!!!!

  9. Way to go Kate and what an amazing opportunity!

  10. Wow! What a fun night meeting Mary Lou! I am soooo excited for Kate and I know she is going to have an amazing year!

    P.S. I expect you to post every single meet! It's your family's scrapbook!

  11. Nice job, Kate! And how fantastic to meet Mary Lou Retton! I hope you continue to post the meets. It will help me learn what is coming for our daughter! She started with her team last night and loved every second of it. The girls were so welcoming. It was definitely the right choice.

  12. I love seeing Kate perform, and does she have a huge amount of natural talent! I know you must be extremely proud of her! And how fun to meet Mary Lou Retton.

    My Will is 7 and started with gymnastics about a year ago, we just changed to a new gym and coach that is training a boys team so we will see if he's interested in that. For some reason girls' gymnastics is much more popular here in Wisconsin.

  13. Kate is amazing!! Definitely a natural!! Thank you for posting all these and post as MUCH as you like!! ;) I was a gymnast for 13 years and a coach for even longer and oh how I miss those days!! The levels/rules have changed so much in the last few years that I'm not even sure I could keep up!! Haha. And the things that kids are doing now...just incredible. I competed Level 8 in high school and early college (at a D1 school - no vaulting "tables" back then!), and now I'm not sure if you could even compete in a D3 college without some Level 10 elements. It's fiercely, crazy competitive but if it's her passion, it will be a lifelong love. Yes, as someone mentioned, the Olympics are Elite Level and how awesome to meet Mary Lou Retton!! Best of luck, and GO KATE!!

  14. I saw Mary Lou Retton in Los Angeles when I attended the 1984 Olympics. She had a lot of personality. I had forgotten how tiny she is - only 4'8" tall and less than 100 pounds. How fun for Miss Kate to meet an Olympic athlete. BTW, Kate look like she has so much confidence!!

  15. Kate's routines are fantastic! Wow! She appears to be so focused and controlled on the beam especially! I have to say that I can hardly believe the close-up pictures you have of Mary Lou! I was a gymnast until I was 20, starting before age five and I used to love watching Mary Lou on TV. What a treat to have the close-up pictures of Mary Lou with Kate! So sweet. It is wonderful to know that Mary Lou is still visiting gymnasiums and inspiring little girls. Thank you for sharing all the pictures and videos. Best wishes to Kate for her competitive season ahead.


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