Stasia’s Point Of View (Age 16)
My day starts at 5:30 AM with some pull-ups. I take a shower, eat a quick breakfast, and get dressed for my early morning practice before school. Then I pack my practice bag and my backpack and I am out the door. I don’t even bother with makeup, I would sweat it all off at practice anyway.
Right after school, I get home and do my homework. Not a minute later than 4:45 I’m expected to be in the gym and ready to go. I’m always early.
After I get home from my evening practice, I practice all of my skills on the trampoline and eat a high protein dinner. Then I take another shower. By then, my muscles are killing me and I feel as if I could collapse at any moment, so I go to bed.
But that one day was different. That day changed everything.
I woke up extremely early that day. It was a Monday. I worked out for at least an hour, feeling nervous about the weigh-ins we were having at gymnastics that day. I was scared I had gained a few pounds in the month since my last weigh-in, which would not go over well with my coaches. They wanted us to be firm and strong, in every part of our bodies. Nothing less would do. To add to that, Natasha, my coach, told me to be at the gym early because we needed to have a conversation. I hoped she wasn’t kicking me off the team. I thought I had been doing well, and gymnastics was my whole life. I could go to the Olympics! I just prayed she wasn’t going to kick me off.
I got ready for the day, and for one last adrenaline rush, did a few pull-ups. It was still dark out.
As I started the long drive to the gym, I tried to go over a list of what I could possibly have done wrong to merit a conference with Natasha. I couldn’t think of anything! Of course I kept this opinion to myself, but I thought I was one of the better gymnasts on our team. I was already on an Elite level and I had just turned 16. I almost always placed first in my individual vault, beam, and uneven bars portions in competitions. I wasn’t ever late, I didn’t act out or pop my mouth off to the coaches like some other girls did. I kept quiet, did what I was told, work hard, and won. So what could this meeting be about?!
*30 Minutes Later*
I entered Natasha’s office to find her sitting there and staring at me. That unnerving glare made me shake and sweat even more. “Good morning.” I said shakily.
“Hello Anastasia. Sit.” She said in her clipped Russian accent, pronouncing my name in that proper way. “Ahna-stah-siah”.
I sat down immediately on the couch. I rubbed my slick palms over my thighs, which had goosebumps on them.
“You have gained weight.” Natasha said bluntly.
My face heated up. I knew it! I knew I hadn’t been working out enough.
“I’ll work even harder and lose the weight. It’s unacceptable. I’m sorry.” I stammered, trying to avoid her piercing stare.
“Hm. I called you in for a meeting because we need to discuss your future. You know that you are the best athlete on the team, and in the whole gym, the region, and possibly even the country. You’ve won national titles before. And I know what you want. You want to be an Olympian.” Natasha said.
“That’s what I’m hoping for.” I replied, hoping to sound confident, even though I was still nervous. Where was she going with this?
“We won Nationals this year, and we are going to Sunset Valley for Worlds in six months. If you don’t think that your individual performance there influences your chances of ever becoming an Olympian, then you are not as smart as I think you are.” Natasha’s words cut through the air like butter.
Of course I knew that. I basically depended on Worlds for my future as a gymnast.
“Of course.” I said, leaning forward on the couch.
“Allow me to ask you something. How important is gymnastics to you?”
“It’s everything to me!” I exclaimed. “I train every day! I am in this gym for longer than I’m at school sometimes! I don’t have any friends, I’ve never had a boyfriend, I haven’t been to the movies in about two years! I have sacrificed everything to be a gymnast.” I exclaimed. I couldn’t believe this! How could she not know how important my sport was to me?
“The fire is there. I can see it in your eyes. But we can not always rely on fire alone. Sometimes we have to add something to make it burn longer and brighter.”
“I don’t know what you mean…” Now I was seriously confused.
“Does this explain it?” Natasha placed a bottle of pills on the table. No… she didn’t expect me to use-