MEDFORD, Ore. — Fear is something gymnasts inevitably feel at some point in their careers.
“It’s scary and there’s a big wall between who can and who can’t and you are either scared or you’re not,” said Laci-Mae James. “I’ve learned how to overcome literally anything and overcome fear and being completely scared standing at the corner of the floor crying and just going for it because that’s all you can do.”
That’s exactly what James does, ever since she first walked in to the ABK Gym in the sixth grade.
“I came in with a t-shirt and shorts on,” said James. “I was like, ‘OK, yeah, let’s do this gymnastics thing.'”
Now a senior in high school, James is a level nine gymnast and one of the best in Southern Oregon. She is also the best in her gym, which the younger gymnasts take note of.
“She still has no airs,” said Chris Blache, her coach. “She’s just down to earth just like anybody else. That’s pretty cool, and all the other kids here love her because of it. They love it because of the tricks she does and because they want to be her.”
“A lot of the times they’ll just have me come in and hang with the kiddos and teach them and so whenever I see something I just pick it up and just say, ‘Hey, change this’ or ‘do this,'” said James.
James is a presence in the gym. She’s there five or six days a week and everyone watches her in awe.
“If you come and hang out here, you’ll hear spontaneous applause happening from the audience just because the parents of other kids, or other kids watching will say, ‘Oh, that’s so cool,'” said Blache.
The opportunity to perform is one of the reasons she chose the sport.
“Gymnastics is a really big spectator sport so it’s like an extreme sport,” said James. “When people come to watch literally just because it’s cool and so it’s scary stuff that not everybody can do and so they want to see it. It’s something they see on TV in the Olympics and so when they see it in person, it’s awesome.”