Raising the Bar: CNHS student describes the trials and tribulations of being a male gymnast

The crowd erupts in applause as Sophomore Caleb Shinkle approaches his starting position. He has been preparing this routine for several months, anxiously awaiting his opportunity to show it off. The judges signal the start of the music, and the first event of the gymnastics competition begins.

Shinkle’s love for gymnastics developed at a young age.

“I started when I was 7,” Shinkle said. “My dad took me to the gym for a birthday party, and I just enjoyed jumping around. I had a lot of energy, so my parents thought that would be a good way to let some of it out.”

Shinkle competes on a level 10 team for the Indiana Gymnastics Center located in Franklin, Indiana. Through this gym, he prepares separate routines for each event, which he then performs at local competitions.

“Every year I do about 8 competitions within the state, as well as the 4 states surrounding Indiana,” Shinkle said.

In order to polish his various routines, Shinkle must practice several times each week. However, this increased practice schedule often interferes with additional activities, such as schoolwork.

“I get home typically around 9:30 every night, so I’m up late some nights doing homework,” Shinkle said. “Most of the time, however, I use my time wisely.”

In addition to piling schoolwork, Shinkle must also combat the assumptions the public makes about him, as well as his sport.

“They aren’t stereotypes per say, but people do think of gymnastics as a girl’s sport. So, if they are not really familiar with the sport, they might make some wrong assumptions about what I do,” Shinkle said.

Despite the difficulties of participating in men’s gymnastics, Shinkle continues to love competing for his gym. In fact, he would recommend the sport to interested individuals.

“I would recommend gymnastics because it is a great sport. It keeps you in shape, and it’s a lot of fun. It also teaches you things about life in general,” Shinkle said.

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