ASU gymnasts thrill at Sequoia Pathways
By Craig Cummins
Sequoia Pathway Academy students were treated with a showcase of athletic ability Wednesday when the Arizona State University’s men’s gymnastics team showed off just what they can do.
“It inspired me to do that kind of stuff again,” said 17-year-old Mckinley Atchison, a Sequoia Pathways student and athlete.
The team, which has won seven consecutive national titles, demonstrated their strength and balance to the applause of an audience of students ranging from kindergarten to high-school seniors.
The acrobatics and skill students witnessed in the new school gym included twirls, flips and hand-stands, and even a mistake here and there handled with showmanship.
ASU freshman Chaz Van De Motter flung himself in the air and landed on a table.
“It stung a bit,” said Van De Motter who overshot his bound, landing his shin and back against the end of the gymnast’s table. Momentarily dazed by the unplanned impact, Van De Motter gave the crowed a smile and carried. “I’m not experienced at that and just overshot it a bit.”
In one of the demonstration’s highlights, multiple ASU gymnasts bound off of the trampoline performing flips and aerial maneuvers over the 6-foot 11-inch Nick Sheppard, Sequoia Pathways physical education teacher and former NBA center.
“Very impressive,” Sheppard said.
Having already visited other schools in the Phoenix area, Sequoia was one stop on the gymnastics team’s radar to showcase their talent and bring gymnastics to Phoenix’s youth.
“We did two assemblies in the last two weeks, one in Queen Creek and one in Mesa,” said Scott Barclay, head coach. “It’s just our way of getting out and exposing kids to the great sport of gymnastics. Just keeping them clean and healthy and doing fun things.”During the summer, the team traveled to South Africa for 12 days to compete against the South African national gymnastics team, walking away victorious.
The highlight of the trip for many of the players was not the win, but the experience they had in their travels.
“We kissed cheetahs, scuba dived, went on a safari, and surfed,” said team captain Stewart MacDonald.
The team also put on a show for children in rural South Africa.
“The event of the trip was going to the City of 1,000 Hills to put on a clinic for the underprivileged kids of South Africa,” MacDonald said.
“The main reason we went to South Africa was to give our team a cultural experience outside of their own box,” said Barclay, who went to Switzerland and Australia when he was a collegiate gymnast. “We went about two hours outside of Durban into the hills. We went into this little community center that had huts all along the hills and did pretty much what we did here, with a lot less equipment.”