Agility Gymnastics Academy trio qualifies for Nationals
Three gymnasts at Agility Gymnastics Academy in Versailles have
qualified for Nationals. It’s a huge accomplishment for the gym and the
gymnasts to compete at the national level in events hosted by USA
Gymnastics, said Coach Robin Huff.
Lainey Muenks (third) and Brennan Kohl (seventh) qualified for Nationals
at Level 9, while competing in Region 5 against gymnasts from Ohio,
Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.
Josie Moylan qualified as an alternate after finishing eighth at Level
10. (Gymnasts who can perform all the skills at Level 10 are eligible to
try out for the elite program, including the Olympic Trials).
Qualifying for Nationals in May is a big deal for a small gym like
Agility Gymnastics Academy because it reminds the rest of the country,
“We are this good. We are working hard,” said Lainey, 17. She and her
teammates at Levels 9 and 10 usually practice about 20 hours a week,
five days a week, with those hours increasing in the summer.
Josie said seeing your friends excel makes you want to do your best in
competition – and practice.
“They are always hard-working. They are always focusing on their
corrections and what they’ve got to do (to get better),” said Huff, who
has been coaching for 22 years. Because of that work ethic, and more
importantly, their willingness to cheer on each other while also having
fun – “they’re a great group to work with,” she said.
Lainey, who started doing gymnastics at age 3, credited the sport and
competition for helping her to set goals – in the gym and life. It also
taught her to not procrastinate and get her schoolwork finished before
practice so she’s not stressed about doing it later, she said.
Lainey has a wealth of talent on balance beam and won the event at
Region 5, which was a big key to her qualifying for Nationals, Huff
said. “She’s just so elegant on beam,” she added.
Because Lainey’s “one of my best dancers,” the Woodford County High
School senior loves to perform on floor, Huff said. She said her energy,
movement and facial expressions leave an impression on the judges.
“You can just show your personality a bunch through your dance,” said
Lainey. A smile – while not visible under her mask – clearly lights up
her face when she talks about choosing the music for her floor routine.
“I think I like (uneven) bars the best,” said Josie, 16. “I don’t know
why. I’ve just always liked bars and I always look forward to doing bars.
“And,” she continues in a less-serious tone, “I’m good at it – sometimes
Josie, a sophomore at WCHS, is self-motivated to always get the most out
of her natural abilities, and “so coachable,” Huff said.
Josie started in gymnastics at age 4, but it’s difficult for her to
explain why she likes a sport so much that she’d dedicate 12 years to
its mental and physical demands, because as she acknowledged before a
recent practice, “It hurts.”
“I wish I could tell you,” she said of her love of gymnastics.
“… It’s such a hard sport, and then every year we just keep coming
back.” One reason why she comes back, she said, are her teammates and
getting to meet other gymnasts from across the country, “and sharing
this love for the sport.”
Huff said one of her challenges this season was adjusting to a growth
spurt. But because of her mental toughness, she still qualified as an
alternate at Nationals and has “a pretty good chance” to compete because
injuries are a regular occurrence in gymnastics, she added.
“She gets out there and gives it everything she’s got,” Huff said.
Brennan has only been at Agility Gymnastics Academy for less than a
year, so Huff acknowledged she doesn’t know her as well as Lainey or
Josie. Yet, the Nicholasville eighth-grader has a desire and natural
ability to overcome any mistakes because she’s “incredibly motivated,”
“It’s really cool to qualify for Nationals and have an opportunity to go
there,” said Brennan, 13. She said her mom signed her up for gymnastics
because she was a high-energy kid who did a lot of flips around the house.
“It’s really tough. And sometimes, you’ll question if you like the sport
or not,” Brennan said, “but it’ll always come back to yes.” She
described Agility as a “very welcoming (gym) and really open to having
new people, and really supportive.”
One of the biggest challenges facing all of the coaches and gymnasts at
Agility Gymnastics Academy has been getting ready for qualifying meets
leading up to the Region 5 and national competitions, acknowledged Huff.
The gym had several cases of COVID-19 that necessitated a shutdown last
September, and its athletes are wearing masks and some have gone into
quarantine at various points in the season. So advancing three gymnasts
to Nationals was amazing, she said.
“I’m just so proud of them and it’s just been a phenomenal year,” said Huff.
Advancing gymnasts to Nationals is huge because that puts Agility
Gymnastics Academy’s “name on the map,” in terms of attracting the
attention of colleges so their athletes will be considered for
scholarship offers, Huff said.
“I want to do college gymnastics. That’s the goal,” said Josie.
Lainey received a partial athletic scholarship at Mars Hill University
in North Carolina to compete on its acrobatics and tumbling team. “So
there’s many avenues … it doesn’t have to be just gymnastics,” Huff said.
Huff said she’s been at Agility Gymnastics Academy for five years, and
enjoys the “family feel” to the gym. Life lessons are taught in
gymnastics through the discipline and time management skills nurtured in
the sport, she explained.
“You make a ton more friends. You get to learn cool tricks. And
competitions are fun – especially when you qualify,” Brennan said. She
said “it’s really cool” being a part of the first group of gymnasts from
Agility to qualify for Nationals.