Saturday, June 15, 2024

Williamsburg Gymnast Earns State Champion Status

Maddy Sipe, center, became the 2024 Virginia State Champion in her age division at the Level 8, 9 and 10 state gymnastics meet. (The Sipe Family)

WILLIAMSBURG — At the age of one and a half, Maddy Sipe’s parents put her in a mommy and me gymnastics class at the Williamsburg Indoor Sports Complex (WISC).

Competing through childhood, Sipe progressed through levels, ultimately switching to the competitive gymnastics program at Dreams Gymnastics Center in Toano.

“Gymnastics became serious when I was level seven or eight. Level eight was my first year ever competing alone the whole season. I always had at least one other teammate at every meet up until that point. When competing alone, it felt more real and I realized that I was really there,” Sipe said.

Sipe, who also competes as a member of the Warhill High School track team, balances two sports and seven high school classes. Five of those classes at the AP level. She is in the gym five days a week, with four of those practices clocking at three and a half hours.

She credits her ability to balance all her activities to the lessons that she’s learned in the gym.

Sipe’s favorite event, the vault, requires lots of power and tumbling skills. (The Sipe Family)

“It is certainly tough, especially being a senior in high school. I definitely think doing the Xcel program helped me learn how to manage my time. The first year that I did Xcel was also the first year that I ran track. Somedays, it is very hard to get up at 6:30 in the morning, go to school, run track, and then go to the gym. I usually get home at 8 p.m., and then it’s just homework and bed. I do enjoy everything that I do which is what helps me the most,” Sipe said.

Transitioning to the Xcel Program in 2021, Sipe competed in the Xcel Diamond program in 2021 and 2022, the Xcel Sapphire program in 2023, and has now switched back to competing in the numerical level system of the Junior Olympics program.

Sipe loves competing on the vault, and finds competing on the bars challenging.

“Vault has always been one of my strongest events. I really enjoy it because you get two chances instead of one and I’ve always loved tumbling more and vault feels like it’s more that speed. My least favorite would have to be bars, it’s probably my weakest event but I do still enjoy it. I haven’t always had the best relationship with bars,” Sipe said.

At the Virginia State Championship Meet held in late March, Sipe competed at level eight, against 17- and 18-year-olds from across the commonwealth. She placed first on vault with a 9.850, sixth on bars with a 9.075, tied for first on beam with a score of 9.350, first on floor with a 9.650, and first in the all-around with a score of 37.925.

Becoming a state champion was a goal she and her coach shared.

“I was so happy. My coach had even told me after I competed on floor and wrapped up my competition, he said that he made a promise to himself that if I was still competing with him as a senior, he would make me state champion. I can’t even explain it, I was just so happy in the moment. I felt like I had really accomplished what I had been training to do all these years,” Sipe recalled.

Sipe competing on the balance beam at the state meet. (The Sipe Family)

During the 2024 season, Sipe earned qualifying scores on vault to land her on the America’s Top 100 list. The list compiles the scores of every gymnast who has competed in that particular level during that year, regardless of age and region, and ranks them in order of the top 100 scores.

“I feel really proud and it feels like all of the hard work that I’ve done over the years has really paid off. I feel so accomplished to see my name up there. It’s just awesome,” Sipe said.

Being one of the older gymnasts who trains at Dreams Gymnastics Center, Sipe is fully aware of the “little eyes” on her at the gym. She aims to be a positive role model for the youngsters.

“Just showing up every single day has really helped me the most. The days that you don’t have any motivation, just being there and with your team, really helps you and them. With how hard gymnastics can be mentally, that team aspect is just so crucial. Gymnastics is such a mental sport. One of my former coaches said that it’s 10% physical and 90% mental, and I totally agree with that. Having a strong connection can really help make you stronger and help you overcome that mental aspect,” Sipe said.

Her score at the state meet qualified her to compete at the upcoming regional competition in Pennsylvania at Ursinus College. She will compete in all four events against gymnasts from seven other states.

After graduation in June, Sipe is eager to head to college. She hopes to find a school that offers a club gymnastics team, simply because she can’t imagine her life without the sport.

“Gymnastics has been such a huge part of my life that it is hard to imagine having to give it up.”

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