Senior sets bar high with gymnastic achievement

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By Hiba Samdani, Staff Reporter

With a small leap into the air, senior Justin Magrowski performs a perfect back flip, adding a twist to dazzle his teammates. Magrowski has won many awards and medals and trained rigorously to achieve them.

Magrowski has won the all-around award, an award given to the overall best player in the meet, ten times in gymnastics at various competitions. As the season progresses, winning medals gets harder. Not only do the gymnasts get better, but they also know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. However, Magrowski still manages to come away one or two medals each meet. The first time he won the all-around award, he was 10 years old, competing in the John Pancott Invitational, his first home meet. He was amazed and proud to be awarded for his hard work.  

“I was blown away (the first time I won). It was kind of a shocking feeling because you don’t know everyone else’s scores — you only know yours. It’s kind of a nail-biter when they’re calling up the scores,” Magrowski said.

At 9 years old, Magrowski saw his karate teacher do a back flip and was inspired to start tumbling, a type of gymnastics performed without much equipment. Even when he was young, tumbling practice was an intense three hours that he had to balance with his school work and social activities. He continued tumbling until a coach recruited him at the John Pancott Gymnastics Center. 

“I was thrilled by the thought of learning how to do flips. I loved the rush I got whenever I did a skill or (mastered) a new skill,” Magrowski said.

Every week, Magrowski endures a tough training schedule with long hours of practice. As a part of his gymnastics team at the John Pancott Gymnastics Center, he is required to train 50 weeks of the year, only receiving two weeks of break. He trains five days a week, practicing three to four hours each day. Aside from practices, he participates in meets, competing against about 10 other gyms each time. Although many of Magrowski’s meets are held in Pennsylvania, he has traveled to several other locations in order to compete, such as the ESPN sports center in Florida and gyms around Virginia Beach. 

Balancing his school work with his gymnastics training schedule can be challenging. Magrowski manages to get his work done by using every free chance to focus on his school work. He studies during free periods, starts his homework right after he comes home from school, stays up late at night and sometimes even sneaks some in between breaks at practice. This schedule required some adjusting, but Magrowski didn’t have many options.

“In freshman year, I had a really tough time trying to balance my schedule with school work and gymnastics. I had to push myself to figure out how to study and how to complete my homework on time. If that means giving up friend time (or) leisure time, it’s what you got to do,” Magrowski said.

Gymnastics is mainly an individualized sport, but there is a team aspect. Practicing with his teammates and traveling with them to meets has given Magrowski a chance to build new relationships and foster old ones. 

“Some people drop out, but you see the same people at every meet. You build a relationship with them, and it really becomes this big family,” Magrowski said.

Even with the large time commitment, doing gymnastics has taught Magrowski valuable skills. He has learned how to manage his                         time, persevere through tough situations and perform in front of large crowds. He now appreciates his free time and knows how to achieve goals he sets his mind to. He has found that gymnastics is his true passion.

“I tried baseball, basketball, soccer and all of that,” Magrowski said, “but I never had the love and connection with other sports as I have with gymnastics.”