Olivia Gamache and the Puyallup High gymnastics program are in a similar position heading into the postseason.
Gamache is a freshman competing in a tough high school world where she will be going against some of the area’s top performers. It’s a big first step for the young gymnast, who will be competing in her first state qualifying meet on Saturday (Feb. 13) at Mount Rainier High School.
But it’s just as big of a step for the Puyallup program as Gamache is the first freshman to represent the Vikings as an all-around performer in the postseason. It’s history in the making for the team and performer.
“It was kind of fun (coming in). I mean, I’ve done gymnastics my whole life, so it’s kind of exciting to be a part of a high school team,” Gamache said.
It’s a nerve-racking, anxiety and cold sweat-inducing time for many young athletes as they try to shake the butterflies in the attempt to rise to the occasion. Many athletes fail, while others become reach some form of glory. Lucky for Gamache, those nerves are a distant memory after years of competing on the club circuit.
I just go for it when I go into a competition or meet. You have to have that mindset if you want to be successful.
“It’s like being back in competition for my club seasons — it’s fun, I mean it’s one of my favorite sports,” she added.
Gamache entered her prep career at the right time with captains Kate Jacobson and Seline Fragoso anchoring a solid all-around team.
While both Jacobson and Fragoso had years to prepare for this postseason, Gamache will be experiencing the rush of postseason competition for the first time. Yet, Puyallup coach Dorinda Carpenter sees potential in her rising star.
“We haven’t had freshman before this season, and with her coming in, she’s done a terrific job of performing to the competition,” Carpenter said. “She’s much like our two captains (Jacobson and Fragoso) with the attitude of not being intimidated.”
It’s an attitude built from one experience after another.
“I just go for it when I go into a competition or meet,” Jacobson said. “You have to have that mindset if you want to be successful. You have to have no fear out competing out there.”
Jacobson’s words resonate throughout the Puyallup gymnastics team as it enters postseason competition. From a senior to a first-year competitor, it’s the mindset that Gamache has adopted from as she goes about her work heading toward the postseason.
Even when the times get tough ahead, she knows her teammates will be there, ready to pick her up when needed.
“What kind of helps me go is my team. They’re just, ‘You can do it! You can do it,’” Gamache said. “And if I’m scared to do stuff on beams or bars, they’re like, ‘You’ve done this before.’ That really helps me.’”
It’s the no-fear attitude of a team united that will become Gamache’s strength. One that her and her team hopes for success at the upcoming meet.
It all comes back
What kind of helps me go is my team. They’re just, ‘You can do it! You can do it.’
Selina Fragoso has been competing in gymnastics for 10 years. But none of those came at the high school level.
Until this season.
“I did club gymnastics at Cedar Sound Gymnastics,” Fragoso said. “I had torn my ACL and so I took about four years off … and then I thought gymnastics sounded fun doing as a sport my senior year.”
The time away from gymnastics didn’t have too much of an effect on Fragoso as the senior was back to her old self within a short time.
“It was actually really funny that everything came back really easy,” she added.
But the easy part is over. It’s now time to focus and make sure she can put everything forward on Saturday as the team heads to Mount Rainier High for the state qualifying meet.
Whether it’s floor — her best event — or any other event, Fragoso knows she’ll be ready.
“I feel like I didn’t learn anything in it (floor), as I remembered what I’ve done before,” Fragoso said. “It’s just repetition now.”