Gymnastics: Pace, Mantilla revel in opportunities gymnastics provide

Louisa Mantilla, 13, gets assistance from coach Jen Yip during a level five drill at practice at USA Sports.

Sloane Pace and Louisa Mantilla know they will probably never be Olympic gymnasts — and that’s OK with them.
The tumbling twosome don’t do gymnastics for the medals or the accolades, they do it because there’s nothing in life they are more passionate about.
“I think it’s really fun and it’s a great opportunity because most kids don’t get to do it,” 13-year-old Mantilla said. “It’s a really great sport and you can have fun with it.”
Both Pace and Mantilla have been involved with gymnastics from a young age and have become USA Sports most senior competitive gymnasts at the Gilroy location. They have moved up through the levels of gymnastics since the Lawerence family took over the gym in 2008 and continue to train hard in order to keep progessing.
“I feel like it’s your reward (moving up a level in gymnastics),” 12-year-old Pace said. “All your hard work is paying off and you get this really great sense of accomplishment when you conquer the skills and get to move up.”
In Gilroy, the highest level a gymnast has reached is level 6 in the five years of having a competitive team. But in the Hollister location, gymnasts have reached the optional levels — levels that allow a gymnast to compete in state competitions — and have also gone on to compete at the college level.
One such gymnast is Taylor Lawerence, the daughter of owner Melinda Lawerence, who is currently on the Division I Brigham Young University cheering team.
“The most rewarding thing for me is seeing them (the gymnasts) grow,” Melinda Lawerence said. “With gymnastics, it’s hard to see results. You don’t see day-to-day results. You see monthly or six month results. … I like to see them not know how to do anything, and then give this a chance and have confidence in something they would’ve never tried or dared to try before.”
Programs are open to both boys and girls who want to learn the different aspects of gymnastics as well participate in the gym’s total body conditioning program. Lawerence said that this type of conditioning is beneficial not just to gymnasts, but to any athlete looking to add more strength and flexibility to their game.
“It definitely keeps you in shape,” Pace said. “You’re constantly working and it’s a really difficult workout that you do. You need to eat healthy because if you don’t, you won’t be able to do the skills. You get mentally strong, too, from having to do all the hard skills that are sometimes scary. You have to build up the mental strength to be able to do it.”
While some use gymnastics as a transition into other sports such as cheerleading, Pace and Mantilla won’t be picking up pom pons any time soon. The pair will be entering high school soon but are grateful that both Gilroy and Christopher High Schools offer a gymnastics program where they can continue to compete and apply what they’ve learned at USA Sports at the high school level.
“We just want to keep moving up, keep progressing,” Mantilla said.

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