#R5PuraVida Blog: Coaches Reflection
The 2016 Region 5 All Star Trip in Costa Rica has come to end but the memories live on. There are many moments from this trip that will forever be remembered and retold in
stories for years to come. Here are some of our coaches reflections on our week in Costa Rica. #R5PURAVIDA
Nina Dent, 2016 All Star Trip Delegation Leader
Today is Saturday and the the All Star trip to Costa Rica is almost over. Through months of preparation and prayers, I believe that this week has been as successful as hoped. It is always my desire to have everyone on the trip get a full experience in the culture of the country we visit and I think that was accomplished. From foods, activities, and language we are all a little more appreciative of the gifts we have, and the gifts that Costa Rica offers.
Each day I gave the girls a “challenge” and one of them was to have someone, who was not a part of our delegation, help them in making the number five. There is a video of the beach where some random folks, who do not speak English, conversed with the girls and someone had the idea to record them all yelling “Region 5”. The epitome of the event was when the elderly gentleman looked into the camera and enthusiastically yelled, “Five, Five, Five!” The man probably did not know what he was saying, but it was perfect. Region 5 “making friends around the world.”
The white water rafting trip was the ultimate experience of bravery and team work. Barely fifty yards from where we launched our rafts, we quickly hit rapids. Water in the face, netty pot up the nose and a heart rate that could have beat Usan Bolt…and that was only the beginning! We soon hit calmer water and then more rapids. With a blink of an eye, Lori fell out. I looked to my right and there she was on the side of the boat. Five seconds later, she was no where to be found. My heart sunk, my mind raced, panic set in. One of the pictures taken by ADR captured my expression, “Oh my gosh, did she drown?” Within what seemed minutes, she popped up in behind the raft! What? How? I did not care, I finally saw her and she was “in the position” as the rafting guides taught us in the beginning. Gustavo, our guide, quickly stood up and helped her into the boat. “Whew!” But wait…there will be more going overboard. Minutes later, Ric went over board at the same time Bridget went. To watch them get swiftly pulled to safety was a lovely site. Are we there yet? Nope. Down the river the crew of Jason, Whitney, Mickayla, and Payton flipped their raft completely over and they all went for a swim. Watching from afar was a bit of a challenge as there was nothing we could do to help. Our guide was yelling and whistling in Spanish to the other guides and it seemed liked forever before they were all safely aboard. A bit bruised from the rocks, but safe. Definitely a trip to remember!
One of my favorite lines of the week happened when we were souvenir shopping near Manuel Antonio Natural Park. One of the girls was completing her purchase with American dollars. The shop did not have enough dollars to give her change so they gave her their currency, Colones in return. I watched the transaction and offered up some money to help her get the appropriate and American dollars. As we walked away she said, “What just happened?” I said, “They were not giving you enough money in return, so that is why I stepped in.” She said, “Thanks. Now I wished I had paid attention in Spanishclass.” Say no more….I chuckled the whole way back to the bus.
There are many memories to be taken away from this trip: white water rafting, waterfalls,
bus rides, sloths, toucans, bus rides, monkeys, volcano, sharing the sport and love of gymnastics, and did I mention….bus rides?
There are no better gymnasts, coaches, and clubs than those within Region 5. We are very blessed to have the group of personalities in this region who want nothing more than to share their love and knowledge of this wonderful sport. I thank you all for the opportunity to be part of such a great event. Five, five, five…Go Region 5!!!
John Geddert, Twistars
24 years of Region 5 All Star Team Trips and they still seem to always pleasantly surprise. Through these annual opportunities our athletes and coaches have been able to see the world up close and personal. We are extremely fortunate to have a region that believes in rewarding our top athletes with experiences that create lifetime memories.
We have seen Australia, China, Japan, France (2), Great Britain (2), Scotland (2), Belgium, Italy, Slovania, Germany, Brazil, El Salvador (2), Canada, Dominican Republic, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Sweeden, and now our return trip to Costa Rica.
With the goal of providing a cultural experience through the eyes of gymnastics these trips are always so rewarding. This trip provided us the opportunity to see the beautiful and tropical landscape of Costa Rica. We experienced first hand the incredible green mountains, the raging rivers (our white water rafting excursion was a blast), volcanoes, water falls, and native wildlife (Crocodiles, Iguanas, Tucans, Monkeys, Sloths, and more). The country of Costa Rica is a must visit for anyone who appreciates what mother nature has to offer.
Most rewarding of all is the opportunity to help aspiring athletes and their coaches. A 3 day clinic was organized where the Region 5 athletes and coaches served as an educational resource for several local clubs. The bright eyes of enthusiasm shined throughout even through the communication barriers. Our athletes embraced the challenge and did a remarkable job of helping with drills and skills.
Having organized more than 20 of these trips I know very well what goes into the process. Much respect and appreciation goes to our Regional Committee for their efforts in providing this opportunity. More specifically the efforts of Delegation leader Nina Dent who left no stone unturned. I know I speak for our athletes and coaches when I say a heartfelt thanks. It is experiences like these that make Region 5 truly special.
Claudia Kretschmer – Gym America
I’ve just returned home from a whirlwind trip to Costa Rica with the Region 5 All-Star team. It was an amazing journey to a remarkable and beautiful country. The experiences of white water rafting, dinners with coaches, hiking in the national parks and engaging with the wonderful young gymnasts of Costa Rica, won’t be forgotten. But what I really found meaningful was the opportunity to get to know coaches I have only known in the realm of meets and competitions—some for over twenty years. It as also amazing to see the strong bonds the gymnasts formed over the course of our trip. These relationships are what makes Region 5 so strong.
We endured some tryingly long bus rides, but they gave us a unique opportunity to see how people live in throughout Costa Rica. We passed through side streets, long winding roads, and busy city streets. While many live in poor conditions, Costa Ricans adorn their modest homes with beautiful plants and flowers. It was so interesting to see an elderly woman riding a horse packed with items that she sells in town. The people are accustomed to walking long distances and steep hills. When we arrived at the airport we all packed into a bus and 4 men were picking up each of our suitcases and putting them on the roof. Our bags were big and weighed about 50 pounds each. A 76 year old man was lifting the bags to pass to a man sitting on the roof. I was amazed by his strength and vitality.
I absolutely loved working with the athletes from Costa Rica. My rather poor Spanish seemed to improve, even if ever so slightly. The gymnasts and coaches were eager to learn and it was gratifying to see. They worked hard, appreciated the corrections and were so excited when they showed improvement. My favorite moment came after the final workout when a group of the girls gathered around me for a picture, and we continue to share stories about travel, culture, foods, facebook,and more. What a kind and giving group!
I am very grateful for having this opportunity to attend the Region 5 All-Star Trip. Muchas Gracias Region 5! Pura Vida!
Anna Li, Legacy Elite
Hola! Pura Vida!! Wow was this All Star trip an amazing one! The week went by so fast because of how busy we were every day. Monday was our travel day where Region 5 all flew in to meet up together in Atlanta. Our second flight we were all together flying into Costa Rica! After two flights, we had a bus ride that was supposed to be about 2 hours. Well, I quickly learned that 2 hours meant 6 hours! This mountain drive was completely in the rain forest and since the road was closed, we had to go completely around the mountain. We stopped on a bridge to see crocodiles, so right when we got there, on day 1, I had already seen some crazy wild life! When we got to our resort, it was dark and rainy out so we couldn’t see anything.
Tuesday Morning I woke up bright and early by extremely howler monkeys at 5:30 am! I thought chirping birds were annoying in America on a Sunday morning, but these monkeys were no joke! I finally got to see just how beautiful the resort was since we got in so late the night before. We were smack dab in the middle of the rain forest, surrounded by beautiful plants, different animals, and a view of the Ocean. We took another long bus ride to go white water rafting that day and let me tell you, it ranks on the top of my list as the coolest, funnest, most amazing things I’ve ever done.
Wednesday we were up and ready to go super early to go on a rainforest hike. We split up into small groups and a tour guide carried a telescope to show us all the amazing wild life animals and insect. I saw a newborn sloth with its mom, a bunch of sloths here and there, beautiful grasshoppers, butterflies, lizards, iguanas, and monkeys that got extremely close to us. At the end of the hike we ended up on the beach and took a lot of great pictures.
Although we had the 2 mile hike back in the pouring rain, it was a pretty amazing day!
Thursday we left and headed to San Jose. It was another long bus ride that took about 4 hours to get to our new hotel. This area had a Dennys, Starbucks, McDonalds, Quiznos, and Walmart. We were right in the middle of a shopping center. This was also our first workout day so the girls and coaches were ready to get some gymnastics in! I’ve been to a lot of countries and have experienced a lot of different gyms, so this gym wasn’t too bad. I was on bars coaching and we had one set of bars, 2 little single rails for lower level kids, and one single rail over the pit. From all of my previous experiences, equipment wise, it wasn’t terrible!
Friday morning we were up early once again and we were on our way to see the volcano and waterfalls. Now this hike was none like any I’ve been on before. It was about 2.5 miles and we were up in the clouds. We were all having trouble breathing and by the time we finished the hike and came back down, everyone’s legs were shaking! Our lungs and legs got a great workout that day! Then we went to something like a rainforest zoo. This was incredible! I took a picture holding a toucan, was basically inside a huge bird cage with all different types of birds, a huge butterfly exhibit with butterflies flying all around us and we could hold them, saw leopards, cheetahs, more monkeys, humming birds, the list goes on and on! This day was amazing until we had to drive back and get to practice. The 2 hour bus ride ended up being 5 hours!! After this day, we all wanted nothing to do with traveling on a bus again! We ran in late to practice, but still got quite a bit done!
Saturday was our last day and we finally decided to take one morning off! It was nice to sleep in a little and walk around to shop. We walked to workout in the pouring rain again and had a great workout day. At the end there was the gift exchange and some Costa Rican snacks as a small goodbye party. We took lots of pictures with the girls and said our goodbyes. We had a dress up dinner where everyone cleaned up nicely! (Being a huge Chicago Cubs fan, I also got to see the Cubbies advance to the WORLD SERIES that night!! GO CUBS!!)
This trip here was incredible. The fruit was so delicious, the people are all very friendly, the views of the rainforest and mountains are beautiful! Some things I could make do without, would be the 30 hours of bus rides, trying to figure out how much colones are worth to US Dollars, & walking and hiking in the pouring rain. I definitely put my rain jacket to use this trip! Region 5 is the best region to be in and having this be my 10th All Star trip I’ve been on, this was a trip I wont forget! Thanks to Region 5, the gymnasts and coaches, and Nina for organizing such an incredible trip that leaves me with so many great experiences!
Amy Voorhees, Gym Xtreme
Our first international trip with the Region 5 All-Star trip was unforgettable! Going in to the trip, we had no idea what to expect traveling with a large group in a different country, but we were blown away. From the moment we landed, there were unexpected surprises at every stop.
After a long flight, we loaded up the bus (with all of our luggage strapped to the top) ready for our 3 hour…wait, 6 hour trip to the resort. Winding mountain roads brought us to Hotel Parador in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.
The next morning we woke bright and early for our white water rafting adventure. We managed to capsize a boat, and send 3 other people flying from their rafts in our trip down river. We saw beautiful flowers, wildlife, and stopped at a waterfall for some photos before heading back for a delicious lunch with the Amigos Del Rio.
The next day, we took a short trip to Manuel Antonio National Park where we saw many varieties of monkeys, sloths, birds, and bugs! My favorite part was getting to see the sloths, both way up in the trees with their babies as well as crawling on the ground within several feet of the path. Our trip led us to the beach where the raccoons were relentless. They would grab food right out of your hand! The rest of the day was spent wandering shops finding souvenirs for our friends who weren’t able to make the journey.
After lots of sightseeing in Manuel Antonio, we traveled back to San Jose to begin our practices at Lider Gymnastics. It was interesting to see what kind of facilities there are in other countries. I think it was good for the girls to see that they are lucky to be able to have the equipment that we have as well as the luxury of air conditioning. The girls that we worked with were very respectful and knew English much better than we expected!
Our second day in San Jose, we were able to go Poas Volcano and the waterfall gardens at La Paz. We loved getting to see the animals, hold the toucan, play with the butterflies, and tour the waterfall areas! The only bad part about the day was the traffic getting back to the gym. Another 3 hour trip that turned in to 6! It was crazy to see the motorcyclists weaving through traffic and cars ignoring traffic laws and cutting off cars.
We are so thankful that we were able to be a part of this all star trip and thankful for the many people who put time and effort into this trip so we could go and enjoy our time there. I cant wait to see where Region 5 takes us next!