Our next 20 Questions Athlete is truly a diamond in the rough! Avah Anthes, of Chalkheadz Gymnastics in Ludington Michigan, has one of the most unique gymnastics stories going from Xcel to Level 10 in less than 5 years. I first noticed Avah, in 2013 when she was a tiny Xcel athlete turning heads at the Regional Championships that year. When coaching at Xcel meets, part of me tends to sometimes think “why isn’t she doing JO?” which there can be numerous reasons and answers to that question, but you can just sometimes tell when a kid has the potential to go far in this sport. That is what I thought when I first saw Avah all those years ago. Then BAM one day there she was at Level 9 State Meet throwing a handspring front tuck vault with so much power it was eye-catching. Come to find out her parents opened their own gym up in Ludington. I make sure to try and catch her vaults when even I am able to do so. However, there is more to Avah than just a stellar vaults, she also excels on the floor & uneven bars. Avah, who is in her senior year, did not let the pandemic slow her down she has upgraded her routine all over the gym and looks ready to take on her senior season. I will continue to follow this young lady to see where her gymnastics path leads her. I definitely could see this “diamond in the rough” making JO Nationals this year and securing a spot on a collegiate team for the fall of 2021. So, let’s get to know Avah a little better as she gears up for the “hopefully” 2020-2021 season here in Michigan and finishes her Club gymnastics career out in the best way possible. College coaches, if you have not heard of this girl check her out she could do big things for any team and she just seems to be getting better and better.
How did you get into Gymnastics? How old were you? I was about 3 1/2 when I started gymnastics. I was put in gymnastics by my mom because I used to climb and swing on things around our house and she wanted me in a safe environment to do so so that I wouldn’t hurt myself.
What is your favorite event? Why? I love vault. It’s my favorite because to me it feels like I’m flying. I’ve always just enjoyed doing it ever since I first started gymnastics
Favorite Skill? Dream Skill? My favorite skill is either my vault: front handspring pike 1/2, or my bars dismount: double layout. My dream skill is a double layout on floor.
Favorite part of Gymnastics? Why? My favorite parts of gymnastics are learning new skills and the competitive aspect of gymnastics. I like learning new skills because it’s fun and also keeps me motivated because when I try a new skill I’m like “Okay now I want to do this in my routine”. I like the competitive aspect because I am a competitive person myself, and competing is fun to show off my routines and it pushes me to be my best
Biggest Accomplishment in Gymnastics so far? My biggest accomplishment is winning all around at the 2020 Level 9 Elevate the Stage meet in Toledo. I was proud to win this meet because I had a little bit of a rocky start to my season so being able to nail my routines and win this meet showed myself how much my hard work had paid off.
1st thing you did when you were able to get back into the gym? I didn’t really have a break but I worked basics to improve my form. After I returned to working old and new skills for the upcoming season.
Talk about returning to training post COVID, being out for so long (how long?) The struggles, successes, how long it took to get skills back and how it was adjusting to our new normal. Well a benefit of my parents owning my gym was I didn’t really have to take a break. We still limited my gym time a little to make sure we could deep clean in between, but overall I didn’t have much of a break. However when I was at home I still did home workouts and flexibility work.
Most embarrassing meet or training meet? I don’t know if I necessarily had an embarrassing memory. I have rough meets where I fell on every event which was frustrating as well as embarrassing to me, but I also took that as a motivator to work harder.
Something you have learned from Gymnastics that you will take with you? Overcoming adversity and perseverance. My gymnastics career hasn’t been easy in any way. I’ve had to overcome many things including being forced to take a year off because my dad (my parents are divorced) made me take a year off after my old coaches sided with my dad and testified against my mom and I. They said I had no dedication and no drive to do gymnastics since I wasn’t going to stay at thier gym. I had to relearn the correct technique for skills for over a year because the gym I used to go to never taught me correctly. I had to work my shoulder flexibility a ton because my shoulders weren’t flexible enough to get my arms up far enough to pass my ears and the physical therapist I worked with just told me that I wasn’t going to be able to and I wouldn’t be able to get my shoulders up that far. I was also injured 2 years ago with an injury so bad that the doctors told my parents I wouldn’t ever do gymnastics again. But these things never stopped my from doing my sport. In fact, I was only out for a few days before I went back to the gym after getting injured and having my first surgery to put my ankle back inside my body since I had an open dislocation.
Who is your biggest role model? Why? My mom and stepdad are my role models. They’ve taught me so many things in my life and supported me through everything no matter what. They’re both very hardworking and determined people and they’re the type of people I want to be when I grow up.
What is something that sets your gym and/or your team part? I am a one person team and something unique is that I travel to other gyms that allow me/ invite to practice as one of their gymnasts a few times a week since I don’t have a team to train with.
What is your role on your Level 10 Team or you role in your gym in general? Well I’m the only level 10 (or J.O gymnast for that matter) in our gym so I would say my role in our gym is a leader or role model. I feel I need to set a good example for the younger gymnasts in our gym since many of them look up to me and tell me they want to do what I do. I also coach some of the recreational classes at my gym, which is fun because I get to help the younger gymnasts do what I love to do and I like helping them reach their goals.
Most memorable Gymnastics moment Nailing my vault at Circle of Stars 2020. I got a 9.8 which was the highest scoring vault in my session.
How would you explain the year 2020 to your future children/grandchildren? It was unreal and crazy, but also a great learning experience for everyone. We had to learn and adapt to things that seemed unimaginable, but we also got to get closer to our family and loved ones.
What is the most valuable piece of advice or wisdom your coaches have given you? Even though it can be a hard piece of advice to follow at times, the most valuable piece of advice from my coach is that you have to believe in what you do. If you don’t mentally believe it, you won’t be able to physically do it.
How did you stay motivated during your COVID Quarantine time out of the gym? Well even though I didn’t have much of a break I still kept myself motivated by setting goals, and watching gymnastics videos and meets on YouTube. Setting goals made me work for something and watching videos allowed me to dream and want to be able to do the things I watched. It also allowed me to watch things I could apply to my own skills to make my training that much better.
Do you have a nickname? If so what is it? What is the story behind it? I don’t have a nickname.
What really makes you laugh? My youngest brother makes me laugh all the time, even when I’m having a bad day. I enjoy spending time with him in and out of the gym because he brings so much joy and laughter into my life.
If you could have any super power what would it be? Why? I think if I had to choose just one it would be to fly. I feel like it would be unlike anything else and just so fun.
What is a question not on this list that should have been? Add your question here and answer it. What has been the most challenging part of your gymnastics career? I had to overcome many things as mentioned in question 9, but overcoming my injury was pretty tough. I had an open dislocation of my ankle which first of all several doctors said they haven’t seen anything like it. I had to relearn to walk, run, jump,etc. Literally all the things I was used to doing my whole life I had to relearn which wasn’t as easy as some may think. I had to get myself to stop compensating for my injured side once I learned to walk, run, and jump again. Something that’s also been a challenge in my career is bars. I’ve always struggled on bars no matter what level I was at. Bars has been something I’ve really had to work on over the years to get y skills and to fix my form.
Bonus Question: Tell us something interesting about yourself………..I’ve only been a J.O athlete for 5 going on 6 years. I was level 4 state champion and then my old gym decided not to do levels anymore so I was switched to Xcel for 5 years. Then I moved to my current gym and had to test out of 4 and 5, I skipped 6, and then competed 7,8, and 9 for 1 year each. Now I’ll be a level 10.