When girls become Rosettes at the Madison Area YMCA they not only become part of the Y’s competitive gymnastics team, they become part of a second family. And when they go off to college and out into the world, they bring with them the skills from the life lessons that they learned through experiences in the gym. College pennants hang in the Madison Area Gymnastics Center that represent where Rosettes have attended college.
“The dynamics of family life at the gym is just like what they have with their families at home,” said Madison Area YMCA Gymnastics Director Ellen Gavin, who notes that the girls talk about things going on at school and in friendships—the struggle to do the right thing when it might not be the “cool” thing, about standing up for other kids, about having patience, making decisions and navigating other difficult predicaments.
“The girls feel safe in the gym. There’s lots of discussion that goes on that doesn’t get shared outside of the gym. Personal growth happens for them in the gym as they progress through the basic steps of life from childhood through young adult,” Gavin said.
The Madison Area YMCA Rosettes team has always been known for its skill, poise, spirit, teamwork and sportsmanship. Inner strength is also part of the Y’s rich gymnastics experience which includes the invaluable attributes like character-building, confidence and self-esteem.
“There so much pressure and negativity out there,” said Gavin, whose commitment and dedication to the girls is unparalleled. “The gym is a no judging zone and a place of trust. I never tell them not to do something. They talk to me. I listen. I tell them, ‘Always think about consequences. What’s good and bad about the decision you’re making?’”
Ellen explains the similarities of what goes on in the gym and what goes on in everyday life. “Girls might be afraid to try a new skill. We coach them along—but they still have to prepare, step out of their comfort zone and try it just like they do in other aspects of their everyday life. It’s good training for the real world.”
When Rosettes turn 12, they may volunteer by teaching younger children in the gym. “To be on the team, you don’t have to be a superstar—you just have to give back,” said Gavin. Rosettes can move on to perhaps getting their first job, which the Y is known for making happen—at 14, Rosettes can work as assistants to gymnastics instructors in the gym. At 16, they can teach on their own. Gavin added that the girls gain responsibility. “If they can’t keep their shifts, they must find subs.”
Every year, the Rosettes gymnastics team holds an Annual Gymnastics Banquet where high school seniors speak about their experience of being part of the team. “A few of the lessons that I learned included how to balance the many aspects of my life, how to manage my time, how to push myself, how to have confidence in my abilities and how to be a good teammate and friend,” said Emma Dresdner, who is currently enrolled at Bucknell University.
Maddie Gapusan, a freshman at Vanderbilt University said that being on the Rosettes was the most special and profound experience of her life.
University of Nebraska freshman Jessica Sterkel said that what kept her going all the years on the team hadn’t been the thrill of flipping around. Being on team “created a sense of family and that's what we are. We accept each other’s differences, we support each other, we laugh with each other, we pick each other up when we’re down and lastly we love each other to the point that if you didn't know us you would actually think we were all sisters.”
Under the direction of Gavin for 17 years, the Madison Area YMCA Rosettes have ranked in the top 10 YMCA gymnastics teams in the country. The team practices team unity and determination and highly regards the YMCA core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. Visitwww.madisonareaymca.org for more information about the Y’s gymnastics program.
The Madison Area YMCA is more than a gym, or a health club, or a day care center. We are a deeply rooted, charitable community service organization with a long history of success in working for the greater good. Openness and acceptance abound in an atmosphere of friendship and belonging. Regardless of where you were born, what you believe in, or how high or low you are on the economic scale, everyone is welcome at the Madison Area YMCA.