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The Summer of Hope

By @Glitter_Girl08

Chapter 3

We got to the gym, and I changed and walked over to the floor, where my team was waiting. I must have had a shocked look or something on my face, because right before we started, Coach Ally pulled me over.

“Are you okay? You seem in shock, or upset,” she asked.

“Oh, yeah. Of course I’m okay,” I answered and I shook my head, as if it would shake my thoughts out of my head.

Ally looked suspicious, but went over to the other girls and I started stretching.

****************

“Look. Naomi. You are obviously not okay, why don’t you sit out for a minute so you don’t hurt yourself, and maybe tell me what’s wrong?” Ally asked. I sat down on the bench, and she sat down next to me, and waited for me to talk. Mary came over and started to say something, but Ally cut her off and shooed her away. 

“Okay. Everyone show Naomi and I your roundoff back handspring!” Ally instructed. Everyone started saying how that was too easy and we all knew it, but Ally told them to be quiet and do it. 

“Now you want to tell me what’s wrong?” Ally whispered to me once everyone was busy. I shrugged, fighting off tears.

“Well, we were supposed to go to Israel this summer, and visit my friends and my family, but we’re staying here instead. I was really looking forward to seeing everyone and being home. I miss Israel so much,” I admitted to her. I blinked a million times so I would cry. I couldn’t cry. I had to be strong. She nodded thoughtfully.

“And why can’t you go to Israel this summer?” She asked, and I shrugged. I didn’t know. 

“Okay, well, I’ll try to make this summer amazing for you. You can come to my house anytime!” Ally tried to cheer me up, and I smiled weakly. 

“Thanks for trying, but by next year, all my friends will have forgotten me,” I vented. I knew I would never have time to talk to my imma or abba, and that MASE probably wouldn’t care. Actually, Trevor and Steph might, but I didn’t want to tell them. Ally squeezed my shoulder, and stood up. 

“Okay gymnasts! Malia, show the rest of us your triple twist.” Malia ran and launched herself into her twist, and Ally smiled. I could tell she was proud. “Wonderful. Girls, see how Malia’s last twist was full, and her toes were pointed the entire time?” I nodded, knowing that our talk was over. 

“Naomi? Why don’t you show us your triple twist? Remember. Toes pointed, and make sure your last twist is complete,” Ally turned to me. I froze, and glanced at my wrist. 

“I-I can’t,” I said, shaking my head. My heart was beating a million times a minute. Ally frowned at me. The one thing she hates is us saying we can’t. I knew that even though she felt bad about Israel, she wouldn’t cut me any slack. To her, gymnastics and everything else were completely different.

“Why?” She asked. The rest of the girls looked at me. 

“Because. Yesterday?” I stepped back from the mats. Yesterday at practice, I was doing a triple twist, and I fell on my wrist. It still kind of hurts, and to be honest, I’m a little nervous to do it again. Ally sighed.

“Look. Naomi. I get it. You’re scared, but you have to do this again. If you don’t, you will NEVER get over it. You don’t want that, do you? Now come on. Round off backhandspring triple twist. Now,” Ally stood in front of me, arms crossed. I was a little surprised that her voice had changed so quickly. Before, it was soft, when she was comforting me, now it is cold, and hard. The other girls stepped back from Ally. She was actually pretty scary when she was mad, and she was definitely mad now. 

I stood my guard, “No, I can’t!” I whined, but regretted saying ‘I can’t’ right away. I should have chosen better words. With my heart still drumming in my ears, I stayed seated.

“Naomi! Listen to me. Round off backhandspring triple twist. Now. If you don’t, you sit out the rest of the class.” Ally spat. I walked over to the bench, staying stubborn. The other gymnasts eyes followed me to where I sat, and they all looked stunned. No one contradicts Coach Ally. 

But they thought I was just scared from yesterday. The truth was, a year ago, in Israel, I tried to do a roundoff back handspring triple twist for the first time, and sprained my wrist. It had taken a long time to gather my courage and do it again yesterday, but after I fell, I got so scared, there’s no way I’m doing it again. 

Hailey came over to me. “Hey. Are you okay?” She asked, and sat down next to me. I nodded, and told her about spraining my wrist. 

“Yeah, I get it. A few years ago I broke my ankle doing a roundoff backhandspring. You just have to get up and do it again, you know?” She asked softly.

“It’s just,” I paused, finding the right words, “difficult. I don’t want to get hurt again. I hated those months without gymnastics, and I don’t want to do that again!” 

“I totally understand. Truthfully, Ally was too tough, but you know, she’s not really being that hard on you. If it was me, or basically anyone else, I would be out of the gym on my way home ten minutes ago. I think you are her favorite. And also maybe Malia. You’re trying your best. Anyways, I should probably get back. If I don’t, she’ll kill me. Feel better,” Hailey stood up, and went back where everyone else was training.

I thought for a moment. Hailey was right about everything she said, but I didn’t understand it. Why am I her favorite gymnast? I get why Malia is, she’s the best on our team, but I’m only third best, behind Danielle, who Ally doesn’t like because she talks back. A lot. But so do I; it doesn’t make sense. 

After practice, Coach Ally was taking a sip from her water bottle when I walked over to her. She turned to face me.

“What? Go home, I’ll see you tomorrow,” she said, her voice cold. 

“Ally? Look, I’m sorry,” I explained to her about my wrist. She sighed, and I flinched, afraid of what was coming.

“I know about your wrist, Naomi. That’s partly why I tried to make you try again. When you fall, you have to get back up again. If you don’t do this, you’ll never get to a higher level…” Ally said other things, but all I heard was that she knew about my wrist.

“How?” I asked.

“How did I know about your wrist?” When I nodded, she continued, “I know Ayala. She told me, when she came to watch practice the other day. I made sure you didn’t see her. If you did, you would have done worse trying to impress her. She would have distracted you.”

“Oh. Well, I should get going now-” I turned to leave.

“Wait. Naomi, just do your triple twist now. Please,” I dropped my bag. I felt like I was under a spell, but knew that it was just my brain telling me I didn’t or couldn’t do the twist. The truth was, I’d been wanting to try it again since I fell, but no coach had pressured me enough to do it. I admired Ally for it, so I did the twist. I fell, but got back up again to do it for the millionth time. We trained for two hours after practice until I finally got the twist. 

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