Tuesday, February 28, 2012

*A Bright Star_Tamara Allard*

The future of our leaders lies not in the hands of merely the gifted, but in those who passionately work toward their dreams...

At 17 years old, Tamara Allard has done more than most girls her age. She began her gymnastics career at the tender age of 3 years. In the beginning she simply wanted to play and spend time with fellow teammates. Like most little girls, she did gymnastics because it was fun.

By the year 2010, she was no longer the little girl, interested only in socialization. She had matured into one of the hardest working athletes at Gymnastics Plus. Even so, she barely made level 9, being only 2 levels from the prestigious elite level; it was an incredible feat to overcome. The year proved to be a vain endeavor for Tamara, as she didn’t even manage to qualify to regionals. Yet if anything, not qualifying only pushed her to train harder.
One year later, she proved she had some unfinished business to attend to. Her first home meet provided her the opportunity to show off some new and polished routines, particularly on her two best events, uneven bars and the balance beam. She won both events and took second in the all around standing- improving the score by two points from the year before. Such an opportunity had never been given to her before in her life. She shocked coaches and gymnasts all over the state of Washington with how far she’d come.
One month later, she found herself at the biggest competition of her life. San Diego, California gave Tamara a chance to showcase her new and improved gymnastics. She did just that, earning a 2nd place medal on her best event, bars. Despite a fall from the balance beam, she still managed to pull off 10th place out of a total of 25 people. She continued making improvements during practice and headed to her next large invitational where she landed her first yurchenko-a high level vault.
She stated, “All I could remember was looking down the runway, starting to run and suddenly being on my feet. It was all very overwhelming. I saluted to the judges and all I could hear was my coach cheering excitedly!”
Her next event would give her the opportunity to shine yet a stumble almost took away her chance of taking the crown as bar champion. On one of her newer, more difficult skills, a straddle back, her hand slipped as she grabbed for the bar. She managed to hold on, finishing her routine with a beautiful dismount. She scored her highest score; a 9.05 locking her in the first place standings.
Her beam routine was choppy and shaky, allowing a teammate to edge her out of the top place; she took 2nd, less than .1 behind. However, she triumphed on one of her weakest events, the floor exercise. Not only did she stick all of her tumbling elements but she scored a 9.1 grabbing yet another award, a bronze medal. Her final standings in the All Around would put her in a close second, right behind teammate, Kelsy Hyvonen.
Despite her accumulating accomplishments, Tamara Allard still remains a very down-to-earth and humble person. She even tried out for “Miss Yakima’s Outstanding Teen,” part of “Miss America’s Outstanding Teen program,” for her first time a year ago. Tamara described her experience during the Miss Yakima Outstanding Teen competition, “I remembered wanting to sit down so bad, I had to stand the entire pageant.” (she couldn’t sit because of the dress) She added, ”since I was wearing high heels my toes had also gone numb!” She laughed as she explained the scenario. It hadn’t fazed her in the slightest. Her confident yet equally loving and happy personality caught the eye of the judges. She surprised everyone, including herself as she became “Miss Yakima’s Outstanding Teen” in 2010.

It didn’t stop there; she also won individual awards in talent and as miss teen congeniality, an award won by the most helpful person. She also had the highest ticket sales, selling around 42 tickets in total. She had originally asked for 100 tickets to sell and was scoffed at. Most people didn’t sell more than 20. Instead she managed to persuade the runner’s of the event to give her 50 to sell, knocking their socks off as she nearly sold all of the tickets. Instead of becoming boastful about her accomplishments, winning has actually caused her to become even more grounded in her personal life. She has begun raising money for numerous charities and treats every person she meets with the utmost respect.
Due to the tumultuous and time consuming training as a gymnast, she has chosen to do online school. She is very driven, always working hard at everything she does and turning every assignment in on time. Her 4.0 GPA proves that she is very serious when it comes to her education. Likewise, she hopes to get into some very prestigious colleges. She plans to apply for UCLA or Stanford but would be equally as happy to get into the University of Washington and to hopefully have the opportunity to one day compete for them in gymnastics. She also plans to double major in Psychology and English. As a career, getting a degree in psychology would be the most direct path, also because ideally she would like to have her own practice. She would however, like to do something with creative writing and wouldn’t mind being an English Professor at some point. She is even working on a novel that she would one day love to publish. Yet despite the fact that her goals lie in English and Psychology, her favorite class is American Government. When asked why, she explained that she absolutely loves the way the government works as well as she enjoys understanding the historical aspect of the American Government.
At her age, the focus in education and her strong determination to excel in anything she does is somewhat rare and unique in today’s world. Yet having something so passionate in her life has given her the focus she needs to succeed in society. When asked about her loftiest gymnastics goals, the answer she gave was remarkable, “Gymnastics is much more than simply the sport of gymnastics. It has taught me a lot of life lessons I would not have experienced if my parents had not enrolled me in the sport.” She then answered more directly that ideally she would like to compete in an NCAA division one school for gymnastics and would be willing to train a couple of years before walking onto a team or attempting to get a scholarship.
The years she spent in the gym definitely caused her to grow up very quickly. The wisdom behind her words portrayed that even though she is not yet an adult, her maturity is almost unheard of for the average girl her age, although calling Tamara average would be anything but the truth. Gymnastics really gave her something that nothing else could provide. The excitement in her voice as she told stories about her gymnastics life was contagious and her final statement she gave me before ending the interview expressed what gymnastics was for her in life. “This sport is so much fun, it’s not just an addiction. It’s like pure ecstasy when I do gymnastics.”

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