Olympic gymnasts visit Sprint Center; local gymnasts show suppor - KCTV5 News

Olympic gymnasts visit Sprint Center; local gymnasts show support for sport

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Olympic gymnasts impressed the crowd at the Sprint Center on Friday night with their acrobatic skills. (KCTV5) Olympic gymnasts impressed the crowd at the Sprint Center on Friday night with their acrobatic skills. (KCTV5)

Sprint Center was feeling golden on Friday night with US Olympians showcasing their skills, including the medal-winning women’s gymnastics team.

Local gymnasts from across the area came to see their favorites and some even got to attend a meet and greet autograph session.

There is a lot of concern within the local gymnastics community as there are threats to shut down the programs at the Shawnee Mission and Olathe school districts.

Parents go the extra mile to get their daughters into competitive gyms. Some of those girls now compete with their high school teams, where the experience is less competitive.

“You get to have more time with your teammates and just like have fun at practice,” said Shawnee Mission East Freshman Brooklyn Beck.

Brooklyn’s mom, Shannon Beck, appreciates that her daughter gets to spend more time with teammates.

“She’s gotten relationships with upperclassmen who have taken her under her wing. She’s gotten camaraderie,” said Shannon.

There was no shortage of girls showing their love for gymnastics outside the Sprint Center on Friday night. This response comes after Olathe and Shawnee Mission schools told their gymnasts that declining participation put their programs on the edge of ending.

After impassioned pleas in meetings to discuss the change, the districts both agreed to step back and discuss further before going to their boards for a vote.

Gymnasts, parents and coaches are standing strong, working on ways to make their enthusiasm contagious and getting more classmates interested. They are hoping that girls in northeast Kansas can still soar in a way that’s more about being a team than Olympic material.

“Everything nowadays is about club and being competitive,” said Stacy Krieg, who is a parent in the Shawnee Mission school district. “Whatever happened to the love of the sport?”

There are a lot of people standing their ground to keep the gymnastics programs.

“We have a very strong parent, coach and athlete group that is very determined to save our sport,” said Kristy Urman, who is an Olathe school district parent.

A website is being created and the girls and their parents are spreading the word in school with t-shirts and bracelets. They are also planning a clinic at the end of the season to introduce the sport to others.

Both districts said they would make a decision by the end of the semester on whether to recommend the program ends. 

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