Gymnast has nerves of steel
Jazmine Deveau is not your typical gymnast.
While many of her fellow competitors are anxious at meets, the 13-year-old Gymnastics Energy member is the exact opposite.
“I find it makes me better because I want to perform better,” she said. “I feel like I had always had it and I have never really gotten nervous in a competition.”
Rather that relishing in her competitive advantage over others, she tries to lend a helping hand with other athletes’ butterflies.
“I try to cheer them up and make them laugh so they are not nervous,” the Grade 8 student at Twenty Valley Elementary School said.
Becoming more confident has been the biggest stride she has taken as a gymnast in the last couple of years.
“As she attends more qualifiers and is more and more successful, you can tell when she goes to competitions she knows she deserves to be there and knows she can compete against her competitors,” Gymnastics Energy coach Jason Lang said.
Confidence is only one factor that has made her a successful gymnast. Last season, she was second on the floor and 12th overall in Level 7 at the provincial championships. This year, she was first overall and first on the vault and bars at the first provincial qualifier.
“Jazmine applies herself to perfecting each skill,” Lang said. “She works really hard to do that and she takes twice as many turns as other gymnasts.”
Jazmine admits to being a perfectionist.
“Once I start a new skill, I normally want to achieve it and I make myself do it over and over again until I can do it properly,” she said.
Lang describes her as the perfect student.
“She is very malleable as a kid and she listens to instruction and correction and makes it part of her learning process,” he said. “Although sometimes she gets frustrated, she strategizes how to fix her problems which is a big part of gymnastics.”
Jazmine, who also plays volleyball, soccer and rugby for her elementary school, started in the sport seven years ago when she attended a summer camp at Gymnastics Energy. One of the coaches, Tina Ives, suggested to her mother, Cassandra Kristalyn, that she had talent and should pursue the sport.
It was love at first flight.
“I really like the feeling of being able to flip through the air and move your body in certain ways that most people can’t,” Jazmine said. “And being able to do something where you are committed and you know you will always be able to come back to it.”
She loves everything about the sport.
“It is such a positive environment here and I love being able to come see my friends and all the coaches here.
“It feels like my second home.”
It took her about three years before she started to excel in competition and her goals have risen in tune with her level of accomplishment.
“This year, I am hoping to make it to (provincial) championships and if I make it, I’m hoping to place in the top five and move on to Easterns (Eastern Canadian championships).”
She knows it won’t be easy.
“You have to make sure your routine is perfect.”
Perfection isn’t the only requirement to achieve her goal
“We have to have some luck and a lot more work,” Lang said. “We can’t overtrain and put too much pressure on her body. We want to peak at the right time.”
Moving forward, Jazmine will face new challenges away from the gym
“Going into high school it is very difficult for gymnasts to maintain the 20-hour a week training schedule,” he said. “If she wants to get to the next level, it means taking it up a step.
“High school is hard scholastically and it’s hard socially so that will be her biggest challenge.”
Jazmine isn’t looking too far ahead in gymnastics.
“I am kind of just focused on my goals this year and see if I can accomplish those,” she said. “I find if I think about the future too much, it puts pressure on me.”
Her next challenge will be the second provincial qualifier that Gymnastics Energy will host Jan. 25 to Jan. 28. Jazmine feels competing at home should be a help.
“You know what bars you are going to use, you know what beam and you know your surroundings.”
Meet convenor Amy Cranch said one of the reasons for hosting the qualifier is to give Gymnastics Energy members a chance to shine in their own gym.
“It will allow them to be a little more comfortable and have a really good experience.”
Among the other top Gymnastics Energy athletes competing next week are:
St. Catharines’ Jia DiRenzo-Baty, first overall in the first provincial qualifier in Level 7 age 16-plus.
Fonthill’s Abby Harris, second overall in the first provincial qualifier in Level 8 age 11-12.
Ridgeville’s Emilie Hamilton, second overall in the first provincial qualifier in Level 7 age 16-plus.
Virgil’s Olivia Pillitteri, second overall in the first provincial qualifier in Level 6 age 16-plus.
Welland’s Paige Norton, third overall in the first provincial qualifier in Level 7 age 16-plus.
St. Catharines’ Charlotte Berner, third overall in the first provincial qualifier in Level 7 age 11-12.
St. Catharines’ Hannah Fowler, third overall in the first provincial qualifier in Level 6 age 15.
St. Catharines’ Elizabeth Baker, fourth overall in the first provincial qualifier in Level 7 age 14.
St. Catharines’ Katherine Tucker, fourth overall in the first provincial qualifier in Level 7 age 13.
Thorold’s Amy Tirpko, fourth overall in the first provincial qualifier in Level 6 age 15.
St. Catharines’ Brianna Cocco, fourth overall in the first provincial qualifier in Level 6 age 12.
St. Catharines’ Ella Martin, fifth overall in the first provincial qualifier in Level 7 age 14.
More than 100 parent volunteers will be on hand next week to help Gymnastics Energy pull off the qualifier. The event will attract 650 gymnasts from across Ontario competing in Levels 1 through 10. The competition will run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day.
“It is a very exciting, very busy weekend of gymnastics and we have lots of talented gymnasts from all over the province,” Cranch said. “It’s all different ages and levels and it is a good opportunity to see Ontario gymnastics and how it is developing.”
Admission is $8 a day and $20 for a weekend pass for adults and $5 a day for student and seniors or $11 for a weekend pass.
Money raised from the event will go toward the club’s operating budget and to fund the purchase of new equipment. Funds are used to purchase the club’s most urgent needs.
“We have a large foam pit that’s two-third full at the moment and we are trying to finish up that,” Cranch said. “We also want to expand the floor a little bit to go into the pit and replace some older equipment as well.”
Gymnastics Energy is located at 333 Ontario Street in St. Catharines. For more information, contact email@example.com.