By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
Chris Pereyra wasn’t expecting his team to do as well as they did in Florida. They haven’t kept a consistent practice schedule this year, and the team has been plagued by injuries that required rewriting their routine a few times. This included a shoulder injury that changed their routine just before the big trip. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, Pereyra said, it was just the nature of this season for his team. It wasn’t just pre-competition nerves either. The team hadn’t done as well this year in local and regional competitions leading up to the nationals.
“Our senior level team, they have been plagued by problems all year,” Pereyra said. “We’ve had injuries. Someone broke their ankle and they’ve been out this whole year.”
That person’s replacement ended up leaving the team, and then another team-member stepping in the role suffered an injury.
“It was just one thing after another, and then there were a few conflicts in schedules,” he said. But still, he continued, “all year long we tried to make it work.”
The dedication and work were there, but the hardships seemed to be piling up. In the past, he said, they would “sweep” their local competitions. This year, they didn’t win any of them.
“Until,” he said, “we went to Florida.”
In the weeks leading up to the Florida competition they got together for several practices, he said, completely rewriting the routine to account for those still out with injuries – among other things – but with no expectation that they would win their class.
One of the teams they were facing – who would go on to win the Grand Champion award – had been winning all of their competitions that year.
“We just figured they’d earned it,” he said.
But, when it came time for competition, that team had a few mistakes in their routine. The Empower Athletics girls, however, “absolutely nailed” their routine, Pereyra said.
Their secondary team, of younger elementary and middle school aged kids, on the other hand had been much better this season. But just after a sendoff party one of their members had injured her collar bone.
“People were already on their way to Florida,” he said.
He didn’t even know until some children approached him and told him they were going to need another practice.
“So, that next day we had a practice, with a couple of people missing,” he said. “We made a massive amount of changes.”
But, like with the older girls, it wasn’t enough to keep the secondary team down.
Their dedication and work ethic, Pereyra said, are inspiring. For instance, the girl who injured her collarbone wanted to compete anyway, he said, but after talking with her and her parents, they decided he would amend her role. She would be allowed to go and compete with her team, but her tumbling routines and any actions that might aggravate her injury would be removed so she could properly heal.
“What I said to that athlete was, ‘I would save your body, and strengthen your body,’” he said. But she still found a way to help her team, which said a lot about the character of the girls on his team, he said.
“It wasn’t that they didn’t work,” Pereyra said.
Rather, he said, it seemed that fate was conspiring against them. But in the end, both teams rose to the occasion, taking home a win in their class, and their youngest team also placing.
Their senior level three team, Gold Rush, and youth level two team, G-Force, each took first place in their respective class. Empower’s youth level one team, Pink Crush, took third in their class.
Pereyra said they almost didn’t take the smaller kids, but they were excited for the opportunity and, with how hard they worked for such a young group, they decided to take them along – a move which paid off with another placing.
Too find out more about Empower Athletics, check out their Facebook page at facebook.com/EmpowerAthletics.
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