Weddington gym rated tops to best gymnasts
Inside an unassuming building in the Weddington Activity Center, the walls are lined with banners heralding awards and achievements and the building is filled with children of all ages, training and working to achieve almost superhuman feats in the sport of gymnastics.
Looking around the building it is obvious why the club was recently named national club of the year by USA Gymnastics, the sport’s governing body.
The club has produced 15 gymnasts in the last two years who have received full scholarships to some of the top colleges and programs in the country. Head Coach Luidmila Shobe was named North Carolina coach of the year in 2007 and Region 8 coach of the year in 2010. In 2011 she was inducted in the Region 8 Hall of Fame. Region 8 consists of eight states in the Southeast: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.
The club recently sent 11 gymnasts to the Level 10 Junior Olympic National Championships. Of the 11, Grace Glenn won the all-around and balance beam titles and received a silver medal on vault in her age group. Her twin sister Anna Glenn received the silver medal on balance beam in her age group. Diana Chesnok received a silver medal on vault and a bronze medal on balance beam in her age group.
Grace said her “big goal” was to win nationals this year.
“It felt pretty good,” she said. She said she was not excited at first, the accomplishment did not really hit her until later.
Level 10 is the highest junior olympic competitive level in women’s gymnastics. After Level 10, athletes may test or qualify for elite, international competition, which is the highest level in the sport.
Women compete on four events in gymnastics: floor exercise, balance beam, vault and uneven bars. The gymnast with the highest scores on all-four events wins the all-around.
Grace and Anna Glenn are 16 years old and sophomores in high school. They have been training at Southeastern Gymnastics since they were about two. They each recently accepted full scholarships to the University of California at Los Angeles, where they will study and compete on their six-time national championship gymnastics team.
They announced the commitment in January of 2013, Anna said it all happened very quickly.
They train for about 24 hours a week. Gymnastics training can often be hard and difficult with achievements, setbacks and falls, but Grace said their scholarship keeps them motivated on difficult days.
“(We’ve) come so far, why quit now?” she said. She said they know it will get better.
They hope to maintain their skills between now and college and continue to compete in national competitions.
Neil and Cindi Glenn adopted the twins from China when they were about 15 months old. Neil Glenn said the twins were not really walking at the time and they were concerned about gross motor skills.
“(They) really had a knack for it,” he said.
He said he feels proud when they have a great competition and when they work hard. He added that while they are talented, they would
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not have achieved all they have achieved if they did not work hard.
“(They are) incredibly disciplined,” he said. In addition to 24 hours of training a week, they attend public school where they are straight-A students, taking honors and advanced placement classes. He said when they get home from practice, they do their homework and go to bed.
“(That) makes me proud, too,” he said. “(They are) able to achieve in both areas.”
Grace and Anna were among some of the youngest college recruits, but they are not the only college gymnasts to come from Southeastern.
Of the 2014 graduates Madison Brent committed to compete for West Chester University, Cailee Hills will compete for the University of Michigan, Margaret McAvoy will compete for Brown University and Gabbie Yarussi will compete for Towson.
Many of their gymnasts from the classes of 2015 and 2016 have already committed to colleges, along one gymnast who will graduate in 2017.
For Luidmila Shobe, who has been coaching for about 34 years, her goal is to help each child realize their ability and gain confidence.
She wants every child to achieve their goal, whether it is the Olympics, or competing in Level 7.
“Everybody’s different, everybody has a different goal,” she said. “Everybody has a different Olympics.”
Shobe came to Charlotte about 23 years ago from the Soviet Union, where she was a national team coach.
Seeing Grace win the all-around title was the realization of a long-time goal for Shobe as well. She is the first national champion to come out of Southeastern.
Shobe said they had come close many times and she wanted one all-around champion and finally got it.
“She worked hard, we had an awesome year,” she said.
Shobe credits the success of the gym to her coaches, past and present, the owners, the parents and everyone who is a part of Southeastern Gymnastics.
“(It took) a lot of hard work for many, many years,” she said. “I’m thankful to every one of them who supported the program.”
She said she has a wonderful group of parents who are supportive and helpful. She has a positive environment in the gym, a good staff and a wonderful group of kids.
“I’m very thankful for all of it,” she said.