TELLURIDE – When lifelong gymnast Teresa Brachle moved to Telluride three years ago, the town offered everything she imagined a sports-loving community could – except gymnastics.
“Gymnastics had always been a part of my life, so I really couldn’t believe that there was no gymnastics program here,” she said.
Within a year, Brachle filled the gap by starting her own youth gymnastics program.
Now in its second year, the program has grown to an impressive 68 kids, ages 4 years old through high school. And even though the program lacks adequate practice space, this last school year saw seven budding gymnasts meet skills landmarks, enabling them to move up in the sport’s competitive realm.
Local gymnasts Ting Taylor, Taylor Dahl, Jessie Wayland, Skyler Nunn, Griffin Mueller, Emma Spaulding, and Mikaela Balkind completed their first-ever competitive season recently, with the newly formed Telluride gymnastics traveling team making appearances at three meets this spring. At the team’s first competitive event, held in Montrose in early May, coach Brachle saw her students go up a more practiced field – and liked what she saw.
At the Montrose event, Balkind and Dahl emerged as strong forces in the bars, beam and floor disciplines – Dahl scoring a commendable 9 in floor and Balkind scoring 8.8 in beam – while Wayland made the team’s high score in vault (8.7).
The team later competed in Grand Junction, and once again showed promise.
Next up was the State Meet, which was held in Vail two weekends ago. Four of the traveling team’s seven Level 3 competitors made it to the event; others were unable to compete due to the competition’s summer break date.
Amid her Level 3, age 10 and up field of nearly 30 girls, Dahl rocketed to the front of the pack thanks to consistently high scores all four disciplines. A combined result of 36.825 put Dahl on the winner’s podium, taking fourth place overall.
“Taylor was really showing some solid skills,” Brachle said, adding that teammates Wayland, Taylor and Mueller also fared well against their tough competitive fields. Taylor scored a personal best of 35.175 overall, as did Mueller, who scored 32.05.
Brachle said that enthusiasm has helped the program grow, and now Telluride is recognized as having one of the Western Slope’s up-and-coming gymnastics programs.
Brachle herself was a competitive gymnast throughout high school, and was also a coach in high school and college. She is “starting from scratch” in Telluride, where there hasn’t been a competitive gymnastics program in recent memory, and continues to work with the Telluride High School’s award-winning cheer squad on their tumbling.
It has proved challenging to offer students well-rounded gymnastics training with limited space for equipment. Brachle’s gymnastics students currently practice in the Telluride Middle/High School auxiliary gym (where the climbing wall is located), yet the space is far too small for all the required equipment to be set up at one time. Gymnastics must also share that space with other programs, so equipment must be broken down and put away after each practice.
“It would really be great to find a more permanent space,” Brachle says, especially as interest in the sport continues to grow.
For more information about Telluride’s gymnastics program, contact Brachle at firstname.lastname@example.org.