Heidi’s Gym’s 12-girl team, instructed by owner Heidi De la Rocha and her daughter, Savannah, competed April 1 in the bronze division of the three-day state event, which took place in Dunn Center of Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, out of several hundred girls who vied for wins in the bronze, silver, gold and diamond divisions.
Last year, 2021, was the first year Heidi’s Gym’s students competed in the state, when it came in fifth place, but Heidi’s Gym team improved this year.
“We did well,” Heidi De La Rocha said about the event. “All the girls on the team did amazingly, and I’m proud of every one of them.
“They just pulled together as a team. They supported each other, encouraged each other.”
However, one girl, Elsa White, 7, stood out as the overall state Bronze champion. Out of 10, she scored 9.7 on the balance beam, 9.25 on the vault, 9.75 on the bars and 9.775 on her floor routine.
“I feel great,” Elsa said about winning the state championship of an organization that is part of USA Gymnastics Xcel Division. “I like doing the bars and I like the beams and the floor.”
“Oh, we’re so proud of her,” her mother Karissa White said. “Ever since she was able to walk, she didn’t ever walk, she jumped and did flips.”
“I’m ecstatic, very proud, very blessed,” Elsa’s dad, T.J. White said.
“When we had her in pre-K, at 4, her teachers always told us, ‘You need to get that girl in gymnastics.,’” Karissa recalled. Then a friend at church recommended Heidi’s Gym.
“We are oh so grateful,” Karissa added.
Elsa only has been taking gymnastics classes since July 2021, but she already is heading to the next level, silver.
“The next competition will probably be in November,” said De la Rocha, who has been in business since 2019. “Elsa’s going to have a new floor routine we’re going to have to work a lot on, cleaning everything up, a few new upgraded skills and just really working her technique and her confidence.”
De la Rocha usually will keep the girls in the bronze division for two years, “so they can be successful,” she said. “I don’t like them to move to the next level until they are successful on the first level.
“But with Elsa, she’s done really great, and I feel like she needs more of a challenge,” the gym owner said. “I think, even though she’s been here less than a year, I think she’s ready, emotionally and physically, to move up. She’s fearless and she’s focused.”
Athletics came easy for Elsa, who has an older brother in football and father who was a heavyweight world champion in sport karate “a long time ago,” T.J. noted.
“We were just hoping for one day a week (for classes), but Heidi thought she was so good that we do four days a week,” Karissa said.
“She would do cartwheels and she did it so easily … and she has a really good personality,” De la Rocha said of Elsa. “She’s happy, energetic, positive, she always smiles … and has a good work ethic.”