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Eighth grader Brooklyn Waldie one of Blue Jays top scorers this season

Feb. 6—JAMESTOWN — Brooklyn Waldie's gymnastics career began in front of the television.

"When I was 6 years old I used to watch gymnastic shows and movies and I remember I wanted to be just like them," said Brooklyn, now an eighth grader at Jamestown Middle School. "I always tried to learn how to do splits and cartwheels on my own until I asked my mom if she could sign me up."

Brooklyn started competing in gymnastics when she was 9.

"When I first competed I was so nervous yet excited because I was a shy, quiet 9-year-old who never performed in front of a crowd but excited because it was my first time being able to compete in my dream sport," Brooklyn said.

Now, five years later, on average Brooklyn is competing in her dream sport about once a week.

Brooklyn is a first-year competitor for the JHS varsity gymnastics team. In the eight meets the Jays have competed in, the team has placed first four times and second four times. As a team, the Jays are ranked second in the state with an average team score of 141.194. The average of the Jays' top 5 scores is 143.285.

But those scores don't just happen. It takes some skill, a fact that Brooklyn knows well.

"I would have to say my gymnastic journey has been fun and challenging," she said.

Because of the intense nature of gymnastics, Brooklyn said that when it comes to training, the team conditions every day. The eighth grader said the team works to strengthen its physicality through abdominal work, leg workouts and arm strengthening techniques.

"Every day is a little different than the other when it comes to training," Brooklyn said. "We all have fun, work hard, try our best and do great at our meets."

After Brooklyn's top-notch performances at the Jays' pair of home meets a couple of weeks ago, JHS head coach Bre Carlson pinned the eighth grader as the Blue Jays' Rookie of the Week.

"Joining the high school team as an eighth grader can be really intimidating," Carlson said. "Typically we see middle schoolers spend their first year on the team testing the waters just trying to figure out how it works. Not Brooklyn, she has taken the last 12 weeks to really flourish as a gymnast."

At the Jays' first meet of the season, Brooklyn earned a 31.100 all-around score. A couple of weeks ago, Brooklyn scored 33.750 in the all-around. Carlson said the more than two-and-a-half-point improvement has been enough to get her ranked at 26 on the state qualifiers list, making her the only middle schooler in the state qualified in the all-around.

Carlson said in gymnastics, athletes have to add harder and harder skills to their routines in hopes of gaining a tenth or two in their score, which shows how impressive Brooklyn's gain really is in the all-around.

Recently Brooklyn has started competing skills usually seen by upperclassmen — a full twist on the floor, giants on bars and a full twisting vault. Brooklyn is now one of the Jays' top scorers on vault.

"I have been lucky enough to have the best teammates and coaches," Brooklyn said of her success. "Even if I fail they are right there giving me tips, telling me it's OK and being just all around so supportive. (My coaches) motivate me every day and reassure me that I can do a new skill when I don't feel as confident."

The constant support from the Blue Jay sideline has helped Brooklyn master a new tumbling series on the balance beam this year which she deemed as the most difficult thing she's had to do in her five-year career. While beam is traditionally her least favorite event, the eighth grader is currently ranked 32nd in the state on the four-inch apparatus, averaging a score of 8.550 at every contest.

Brooklyn has qualified for the 2024 Class A State Gymnastics Meet on bars, beam, vault and floor exercise. As of Feb. 1, the eighth grader is ranked 15th in the state on vault, scoring an average of 9.017 points at every competition. Brooklyn is ranked 36th on floor and 40th on bars.

Brooklyn said her goals for the rest of the year are to keep getting better, learning new skills and hopefully end up on the podium place in state.

The 2024 State Gymnastics Meet is slated to be held at Dickinson High School on Feb. 23-24. As of Feb. 5, 14 out of the 15 members of the JHS varsity squad have qualified for state in at least one event.

"Brooklyn is such a talented gymnast and become such an asset to our team," Carlson said. "She has a very bright gymnastics future ahead of her, I can't wait to see what she is capable of."