A look at the smiles on their faces says it all, although it was perhaps a different message for each. For some, it was a moment that marked the culmination of years of hard work and discipline and for some it was just the beginning of years of great competition to come.
Earlier this month, from August 8-12, American Vaulting held its National Championships in Denver, Colorado. Vaulting is a demanding sport that is a combination of gymnastics and dance on horseback, with moves performed while the horse is lunged in a circle. Beginning vaulters compete at the walk and the trot and copper, bronze, silver, and gold medal level vaulters perform on the horse at the canter.
Woodside Vaulters, a non-profit organization that operates out of the John Kiely Equestrian Center on Tripp Road, sent thirty of its own to compete at Nationals in a variety of different classes and levels, as individuals and teams. The vaulters ranged in age from six to eighteen and have worked all year, and in some cases for many years, in order to be ready for this event. They were led by their coaches Ali Divita, Aleta Kotecki, Marina Olivieri and Isabelle Bibbler Parker, each accomplished vaulters in their own right, and aided in their quest by Ingrid Hamar, Lisa Plungy and Krista Poppenberg.
In the end, the girls came home with great treasure: A Team: 1st Overall and 1st in Freestyle; C Team: 1st in Freestyle; Trot Team: 2nd in Compulsories; Elizabeth Osborne: 2nd Overall in Gold; Ali Divita: 3rd Overall in Gold; Yvonne Greenen: Fourth Overall in Bronze; Katrina Nibbi: 1st Overall in Copper; Siddartha Kreaden: 2nd in Trot Freestyle; Janie Salisbury: 4th in Trot Freestyle; Siddartha Kreaden: 4th in Trot Barrel.
More important than any ribbon or trophy or medal that could have been given were the memories that these girls created and the character that they built as individuals, as part of a smaller team, and as part of a larger team, meeting challenges and persevering when all manner of obstacles were put in their way. Go Woodside!