When I first tried out for the Airborne Trampoline KW competitive trampoline team, I was extremely nervous. In retrospect, though, there was really no need to be; the tryout itself was a very friendly experience. I simply showed the coach what I could do so my skill level could be gauged while the other members of the team had their class around me. I remember feeling like I had stepped (or maybe jumped?) into a whole new world, seeing this group of athletes who were all clearly closely-knit. It was a whole other dynamic than the recreational classes I had been in, a whole other community, and I was welcomed into it with open arms. The first summer, I met many people my age and quickly realized there was no need to feel intimidated by them as they were just as down to earth as they were talented, and they were willing to give me tips on the skills that I was working on.
I had always been shy growing up, and competitive trampoline was a sport like nothing else I had ever tried before. The neat thing about it is that even though it’s an individual sport, you never really feel like you’re on your own. Even at competitions, it didn’t feel like you were competing against the people in your category. During the warm-up, everyone was incredibly polite and we would even made conversation as we waited for our turns. I quickly learned that the humble and open atmosphere at my gym was not an uncommon one, which was something I hadn’t experienced or expected from a sport deemed ‘competitive.’ Over the course of the seasons I competed, I began to recognize faces at the trampoline competitions and we would catch up one how our lives were going and cheer each other on. Having people from both your gym and the other ones rooting for you made it easier to compete.
Asides from that, the more I competed in competitive trampoline the more accustomed I became to performing solo. That was definitely my biggest take-away from competing in trampoline; confidence. Confidence in myself and my abilities, to be specific. My coach would always say that competitions are 5% physical and 95% mental, and that was indeed true. With trampoline, I was not only training my body but also my mind in terms of my ability to focus. I also learned the importance of being my own number-one fan, especially if I was also acting as my number-one critic. Often times in trampoline competitions, I wouldn’t place in the top eight, but I learned that it didn’t matter. Instead of beating myself up over it, I would set goals with encouragement from my coaches for what I could improve on for the next competition. These sorts of goals would be things like completing both of my routines or improving my overall score. Needless to say, the skills and the growth mindset that trampoline facilitated could be and continually are applied to all areas of my life, especially in school. On that note, competitive trampoline was a great way to keep myself well-rounded and manage some of the stress that came with school. It also helped me prove to myself that I can pursue both academic and athletic endeavors, so I began to try other individual sports like tennis.
Trampoline left me with many lessons and memorable experiences. It left me with new friends and, of course, a very interesting conversation starter. Even as I write this, I’m sitting at Airborne Trampoline KW, which often feels like a second home. There are few things more empowering than conquering your fears, namely new skills that I didn’t think I could do but then pleasantly surprised myself. There are few things more important than discovering one of your passions. And, of course, there are very few things quite like flipping and twisting in the air. As an athlete, a coach, and someone who just plain loves the thrill of this sport, there are also few things as amazing as seeing other people discover all that it has to offer, too. And there is no doubt in my mind that someday, they will look back fondly and cherish all that the sport of competitive trampoline has given them. I know I have.