Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By Olivia Homel
The challenge of competing with a standing tuck on a four-inch piece of wood in Andrea Davenport’s routine is a complex skill to have. Gymnastics takes the body to a whole new level requiring mental and physical discipline. Allowing one’s body to do all kinds of flips and tricks, such as an aerial or a round off, requires extreme dedication and perseverance in competing.
Davenport has gotten her gymnastic talent from her mother, Shelly Davenport. “I was good for my time in the sport, but Andrea has surpassed anything I could do,” Shelly said. “I also coached gymnastics for 15 years so seeing her do a cartwheel at three, I knew she had talent. I helped with skills at home as long as we could – before they got really advanced.”
As Davenport entered the Palatine Gymnasium for her first state performance as an individual; the crowd became silent. Standing in the crowd were her proud parents who were ecstatic that their daughter participated in the State finals. Shelly stated, “I knew that she would nail her routine, and with any outcome I would be proud of her.”
As she observed the gymnasium, Davenport walked over to stand behind the other gymnasts who were waiting anxiously to execute their routine. While Davenport stepped onto the balance beam, adrenaline rushed into her veins. “The balance beam is like staring at your enemy, but you won’t let them take you down,” Davenport said.
In the crowd was Davenport’s best friend, Kayla Carlson. “I was so proud watching Andrea perform her beam routine,” Carlson said. “She had been working very hard the entire season, and I could see her confidence in her abilities in every skill she perform.” Through Davenport’s hardships Carlson has been supportive with every step of the way.
Davenport’s aesthetic performance became natural to her. According to Shelly Davenport, the quality of the routine was impeccable and Davenport was able to accomplish the proficient performance with her charisma. Based on the recognition and applause she received, it can be affirmed that the crowd was in awe of the effortless routine.
Gymnastics requires physical strength along with stamina, agility, endurance, and coordination in order to balance. Davenport demonstrates that with her determination to succeed and is capable of becoming the next Simone Biles.