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Penn State gymnasts host YMCA clinic

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

Young female gymnasts at the YMCA of Chilton County had a special workout during a clinic with two Penn State University gymnastics team members.

Alissa Bonsall and John Baldwin connected with the Y through a parent of one of the students.

“We thought it would be pretty fun,” Baldwin said.

The clinic featured a variety of the basics, drills, vault, bars, beam and trampoline. Bonsall introduced the girls to some of the warmup routines that the female gymnasts use at Penn State.

She said she wanted the clinic to be fun for the students but also to “build their love for the sport.”

“I feel like bringing new people in also helps them push them to do things that they are scared of doing,” Baldwin said.

He said it felt good to help students master new skills.

“My favorite thing is getting them to do something they were scared of,” Baldwin said. “I always had problems with that when I was younger I would be very scared to learn certain skills.”

To help with this, Bonsall started a sticker challenge and gave a sticker to a student when they “tried something new or showed that they were working hard or being a good teammate.”

Both of the Penn State students started gymnastics at a young age.

“I started gymnastics when I was 4,” Baldwin said. “I guess I had a lot of energy when I was a kid, and my mom just decided to put me into gymnastics. I think we tried a few other sports before that, but I didn’t really like them.”

Bonsall started gymnastics at the age of 2.

“Apparently I had a lot of energy, and my mom just put me in it one day, and the next thing I knew I didn’t want to leave,” Bonsall said.

Now that she is competing at the college level, Bonsall enjoys the team culture and working clinics, similar to the one they were doing at the YMCA.