- Photo Blogs
- Special Reports
Pressing her feet flat into the corner of the springy floor, junior Angie Kern sprinted to the opposite side of the blue mat. Catapulting from a round off backhand spring into a double 360-degree rotation and holding her straight legs into her chest, she landed on her feet with her hands stretched above her.
Even though her stunt was perfect on the outside, inside, her heart was split in two.
In order to be fully ready for the start of her gymnastics season, in pre-season right now, Kern had to make a sacrifice. This past 2011 season, she gave up her varsity spot on the girls golf team. After playing her freshman and sophomore years, Kern announced a few days before fall practice started she would not be playing golf her junior year, causing the team’s hopes for another successful season to dwindle.
“When I first made the decision [to quit golf], I felt like I was letting everyone down,” Kern said. “I was part of something, and I didn’t want it to come across like I didn’t care; [quitting, however], was going to be better for me in the long run.”
Since she was five, Kern has been a competitive gymnast. Gymnastics has always been her ambition, a hobby and a way to pay for college. Starting golf her freshman year was a trial run, with golf practice being somewhere she could go to be herself and let loose. But over time, she grew to love it. Conflicting commitments, however, forced her to make a decision between the two.
“I’ve done gymnastics my whole life, and junior year is one of the most important for college scouting,” Kern said. “It was important for me to be able to constantly train so that I could get more experience than just coming in the gym a couple times in two weeks and not getting better.”
Kern said trying to continuously provide meet scores, places and schedules to interested coaches and having the responsibility required in varsity golf were not easy.
“It was very stressful trying to make golf and gymnastics practices,” Kern said. “I would go to golf practice and play nine holes, and then I would go to the gym and try to get something in. The idea I had to go back and forth four or five times a week was like, ‘Holy cow.’”
Playing golf, however, did improve her skills as a gymnast, Kern said. Golf helped alleviate Kern’s difficulties with confidence and concentration.
“It was mostly trying to get in the zone, trying not to get ahead of myself because in gymnastics you can’t do that,” Kern said. “When you fall, you have to get back up on the beam and make the rest count because you don’t want to fall again.”
Hoping to finish this gymnastics season strong, Kern will compete this spring in state, regionals and nationals, and depending on how she performs, Kern is expecting to sign with a college by fall of her senior year. If all goes as planned, she said she may join the girls golf team her senior year, reliving the past years, all filled with good memories and success in her golf seasons.
In the year she hasn’t been part of the team, the golfers missed Kern’s skill, commitment and love for the game, according to senior counselor and girls golf coach Melissa Melahn. Mehaln said Kern is known not only as a talented golfer, but also as a family member.
“I think to lose Angie as a varsity player is a very hard thing because she is what I would consider a true athlete in that she is a competitor at heart,” Melahn said. “To lose that spirit and that drive when we weren’t really sure who was going to step up and take that spot, it was hard to go into the season and prepare for something like that.”
Even after the loss of a significant part of their state squad, the golfers stepped up and turned out a third consecutive district championship and their first state title. Kern was there on the sidelines, cheering them on.
“I miss the walks and the weird conversations we have and having a good time even though we were trying to focus; I miss that and hopefully I will be able to be a part of that next year,” Kern said. “And if I don’t, I will still try to be a part of it anyways, going to matches and supporting my family.”
By Kaitlyn Marsh