Meet the Dinosaurs
Meet some of the adult gymnasts at Capital Gymnastics in Burke, VA, June 2011
Standing, L to R: Coach Richard, Chris, Coach Carlos; Sitting: Rupert; Straight handstands: Jodi, Caity, Miriam; Stag handstands: Marina, Elsie; Splits: Jen, Karin
Started Gymnastics: When she was 3 years old
Gymnastics history: Andreea was a member of the Romanian national team for several years and quit gymnastics in 1999. She competed at the elite level in national and international meets, and trained with Octavian Belu and Mariana Bitang.
Best gymnastics moment: Becoming the National Champion on Vault and Floor Exercise in the same day! :)
Favorite event: Beam
Favorite skill: Front aerial walkover on beam
Day job: Coached gymnastics for several years. Currently, she is a full-time student.
Favorite thing about gymnastics: The joy and satisfaction of learning a new skill!
Hobbies when not upside down: Travelling the world and cooking/baking with her husband.
Favorite food: Romanian soup (ciorba).
Team fun fact: Andreea recently moved to the DC area from Iceland. In addition to getting back into the gym, she's working on another very important goal - getting her driver's license for the first time.
Gymnastics history: Caity was a gymnast until she was 13, and then picked it up again 9 years ago, when her son was 2.
Best gymnastics moment:
Favorite event: Bars
Favorite skill: Toe shoot to high bar
Day job: Student/medial assistant/management
Favorite thing about gymnastics: It's gymnastics!
Hobbies when not upside down: Photography
Favorite food: Cookies
Team fun fact: Gymnastics is a family affair in Caity’s house -- her 11-year old son is a competitive gymnast. Caity’s Great Dane “puppy” is almost as tall as she is. Caity also participated in ROTC in college.
From: Syracuse, NY
Started Gymnastics: Around age 21
Gymnastics history: Chris started gymnastics around age 20, far far too late for most people. He came from a short history of breakdancing.
Best gymnastics moment: His first solo back giant
Favorite gymnasts: This one’s easy--the other dinosaurs!
Favorite event: High bar
Favorite skill: Kovacs. We don’t have to be able to do it for it to be our favorite, right?
Day job: Energy trading
Favorite thing about gymnastics: Consistently getting to learn new skills. That’s one bonus of never knowing them in the first place.
Hobbies when not upside down: Photography, Baking, Board games, Classical Trumpet, Breakdancing
Favorite food: This is like asking Chris to choose his favorite child (note: Chris does not actually have any children)
Team fun fact: Chris is fearless, a natural gymnast, and never complains. Always up for a challenge, Chris enjoys climbing the rope while wearing a 45-lb vest. Chris moonlights as a star photographer and did many of the photos on this page.
Started Gymnastics: Elsie started gymnastics when she was in 5th grade.
Gymnastics history: Though Elsie got a late start in gymnastics, she was, and remains, an incredibly talented athlete. She progressed through the sport very quickly, starting as a level 4 and finishing high school as a level 9. After a short fore into cheerleading, she came to her senses and competed club gymnastics in college. She then transitioned to adult classes, and continues to compete in adult divisions in AAU meets.
Best gymnastics moment: Competing a double back on floor
Favorite gymnast: Alicia Sacramone
Favorite event: Bars
Favorite skill: Double pike on tumble track to the pit
Day job: Communications
Favorite thing about gymnastics: The physical and mental challenge, overcoming fears
Hobbies when not upside down: Running, reading, movies, spending time with family and friends, vacationing
Favorite food: The bread at Cheesecake Factory, hamburgers, pizza, cheese, hummus
Team fun fact: Elsie is the most fun-sized Dinosaur, tipping tape measures at 4’11. She has gorgeous form in everything she does and manages to hit splits in her leaps that are bigger than they are on the floor. Elsie has a great sense of humor and is also a fabulous gymnastics coach.
Started Gymnastics: Jen has an extensive dance background. Gymnastics was one of the classes at her dance studio, where she learned the basics and some tumbling.
Gymnastics history: Jen started gymnastics with her dance studio and then competed a little bit in high school. She was always flipping around and soon inspired two of her cousins to take up gymnastics. Both of them stayed with the sport competitively – one competed for NC State and the other will compete for the University of New Hampshire beginning in the fall of 2011. Jen's love for gymnastics both inspired her cousins and led her back to the gym in adult class.
Best gymnastics moment: Meeting Kim Zmeskal at her gym in Cincinatti, OH. She was so polite and actually shorter than Jen!
Favorite gymnast: Kim Zmeskal
Favorite event: Floor
Favorite skill: Aerial
Day job: Residential designer (architect)
Favorite thing about gymnastics: Learning and working on new skills that Jen has never done. To Jen, the best feeling is getting the skill by herself after trying it many, many times.
Hobbies when not upside down: Ice skating, glass blowing, glass art, playing piano, doing things with friends
Favorite food: Rice and gravy, Ice cream, Smoothies, Chocolate
Team fun fact: In the gym, Jen is talented and fearless, a combination that allows her to master new skills very quickly despite spending a relatively short time in the gym each month and actively socializing while there. Outside the gym, Jen is our queen of extracurricular activities, participating regularly in piano, ice skating, and glass blowing classes. Jen also is one of the friendliest Dinosaurs. We can always count on her to introduce herself to new people and make them feel welcome. Finally, Jen wins the award for longest commute to the gym – over an hour.
From: Stratford, Ontario, Canada, eh!
Started gymnastics: Jodi started gymnastics when she was about 7 years old and the local Y was holding try-outs. Since her foot was the same length as the width of the beam, she figured that the sport was a perfect fit! She passed all of the requirements and was accepted onto the team. Thanks to the trampoline in her back yard, she could practice at home too.
Gymnastics history: Jodi competed throughout elementary school, but her high school didn’t have a gymnastics program. She spent a year on the trampoline team in College, but always dreamed of doing gymnastics again. Finally, about 20 years after she stopped competing, she found an adult team in the Washington DC area. She has been happily flipping ever since.
Best gymnastics moment: Making an educational gymnastics training video (with BFFB June and Coach Andy) that was used throughout Ontario to teach the sport to middle school and high school students.
Favorite gymnast: Nadia Comaneci
Favorite event: Floor
Favorite skill: Press handstand
Day job: Event planner
Favorite thing about gymnastics: Doing gymnastics ALWAYS puts Jodi in a good mood!
Hobbies when not upside down: Running, biking, spending time with her adorable future gymnast, her 20-month old daughter, flashing people outside the gym
Favorite food: Anything her live-in gourmet chef, a.k.a. husband, cooks… and chocolate, of course!
Team fun fact: Jodi is one of the sweetest, friendliest, and most contagiously enthusiastic Dinosaurs. She is always cheering on her teammates and friends, inside and outside the gym. After taking a year off to have her mini me, she came back stronger and better than ever. Jodi also is a dedicated runner, and everyone is afraid to even attempt to challenge her in a handstand contest.
Bio to come!
Started gymnastics: Before she knew was gymnastics was, Marina was always trying to flip around and walk on any beam-like object she could find. Then, in third grade, her neighbor, who happened to be the tallest kid in their elementary school, naturally enrolled in a gymnastics class at the local YMCA. Marina’s parents let her sign up as well, and although her friend didn’t last very long in the sport, for Marina, it was love at first forward roll.
Gymnastics history: Marina competed in elementary school, took a few years off, and then competed for her high school. In college, she co-founded her school's a gymnastics club after she and a friend knocked over one too many hallmates while pirouetting around their dorm. In law school, Marina enjoyed tumbling in the wrestling room when (she thought) no one was looking. Soon after, Marina discovered adult classes and began working toward her goal of becoming a Dinosaur, hopefully without the extinction part.
Best gymnastics moment: Getting Mary Lou Retton’s autograph in 1985
Favorite gymnast: Mary Lou Retton
Favorite event: Bars
Favorite skill: Standing tuck
Day job: Lawyer
Favorite thing about gymnastics: Flipping, flying, and accomplishing things that initially seemed impossible.
Hobbies when not upside down: Spending time with friends and family, outdoor activities, going to the beach, shopping, hiking, biking, traveling, organizing social events, and doing work for Gymnastike.org, including running the adult gymnastics page and covering the 2011 Visa Championships with the Gymnastike team
Favorite food: Sushi and chocolate
Team fun fact:
Started gymnastics: When Miriam was 6 years old, her non-gymnast mom took her aside and said, “Miriam, you are old enough to learn how to do something very important in life –a cartwheel.” Then her 43-year-old mother demonstrated a perfect cartwheel across the living room. Miriam has been cartwheeling since, and formally started gymnastics classes when she was 8.
Gymnastics history: Miriam competed for the Mannettes in Pennsylvania for 9 years. She went to level 9 regionals and eastern nationals, and competed in college in the Ivy League. Unable to retire her sparkly silver leotard, Miriam was delighted to find the Dinosaurs when she moved to the DC area.
Best gymnastics moment: Placing 8th all-around at level 9 eastern nationals
Favorite gymnast: Shannon Miller
Favorite event: Beam
Favorite skill: Double pike dismount on bars
Day job: Law student
Favorite thing about gymnastics: Trying new skills
Hobbies when not upside down: Running, soccer, creating Dinosaurs montage videos, catching up with friends after a long school year spent mostly in the library, anything Philly
Favorite food: Anything she doesn't have to cook
Team fun fact: Miriam is doubly bionic, after 2 ACL surgeries on the same knee. She is also an avid runner and enjoys eating at Wawa, Pennsylvania’s finest dining establishment. Miriam is also known for her innate persistence and dedication. As a camper at a gymnastics camp at age 9, she was determined to get her kip. Unfortunately, however, the coaches shooed her away after she worked so hard on bars that her hands were bleeding profusely. Undeterred, Miriam snuck to a different gym on the other side of camp, inconspicuously (or so she thought) leaving behind a trail of blood. One week later, the kid who refused to quit got a well-deserved gift: her kip.
From: Austin, Texas
Started gymnastics: Began competitive gymnastics at age 11
Gymnastics history: Rupert competed for the College of William and Mary and has also coached J.O. gymnastics and the University of Texas Club gymnastics team.
Best gymnastics moment: The entire collegiate gymnastics experience and the great group of guys Rupert shared it with. The team winning ECACs senior year was pretty awesome as well.
Favorite event: Depends on the day
Favorite skill: Ono
Day job: Personal trainer/physiologist/researcher/coach/entrepreneur
Favorite thing about gymnastics: Constant progression and ability to challenge yourself. Plus its fun!
Hobbies when not upside down: Working out at the gym, working on gymnastics and fitness-related business ideas, reading scientific literature, skating, spending time with my wife
Favorite food: Curry
Team fun fact: Rupert just finished graduate school and is the most recently married Dinosaur.
From: Tokyo, Japan
Gymnastics history: Yukiko started Gymnastics at 19 years old. She restarted gymnastics after a long break when she was 35 and has continued since then.
Team fun fact: Before accepting an offer to come to the Washington DC area, Yukiko checked the Internet whether she could continue gymnastics, and then said yes to her company.
From: New York
Started gymnastics: Carlos started gymnastics in 8th grade, after he watched his friends flip around and decided he wanted to learn, too.
Gymnastics history: Carlos competed in club and then at Temple University in Pennsylvania
Best gymnastics moment:
Favorite gymnast: Dmitry Bilozerchev
Favorite event: High bar
Favorite skill: Kolman
Day job: Boys’ head coach at Capital, and coach of the adult gymnastics class
Favorite thing about gymnastics: The life lessons it teaches you
Hobbies when not coaching: Spending time with family, traveling to former gymnasts’ weddings, working with computers
Favorite food: Cuban
Team fun fact: Carlos coached Olympian Justin Spring, as well as several other national champions and world championship team members. Carlos nearly became an engineer before his love of gymnastics pulled him back into the sport. His engineering background comes in handy when he figures out all sorts of tape grip constructions to protect our hands on bars. Understated and always calm, Carlos is an amazing coach and we feel incredibly lucky to have him.