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Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2019
Trampoline trio helps put Sudbury on the map
by Randy Pascal

Just under a decade ago, Jordan Mulloy (athlete) and Michelle Seanor (coach) travelled this road in tandem, leaning heavily upon each other in attempting to navigate their way through the maze that is trying to achieve excellence in the trampoline discipline on a national scale.

These days, Seanor can look upon her entourage of GymZone – Sudbury Laurels’ representatives, a group that is making notable headway, and is led by 21 year old Kyle Lapierre, fresh off a top ten performance at the Senior Men’s Open division at the recent Canadian Championships.

“There are roughly twenty trampoline clubs in Ontario right now,” Lapierre noted during a weekend visit back home. “From those twenty, the clubs that were represented in the Senior level at nationals were the Skyriders, from Richmond Hill, and me.”

It’s pretty heady company, indeed, but just the type of exposure that Seanor was seeking, looking for club veterans Pauleena Moote and Sebastien Larochelle to participate, as well, in some of the remaining brackets of competition at the all-Canada meet.

“With Jordan and me, it was just the two of us,” said Seanor. “Now, we’re a bit of a stronger presence, we have teammates to rely on. When I go with one athlete, you tend to look at what they are doing, in isolation. Going with a team, I was able to look at things that we are doing well, across the board, and things we really need to work on.”

There is no doubt that the top spot on the marquee, in Sudbury, will shine upon Lapierre. Earning a ninth place finish in the country, despite tweaking his back in training the day prior to competition, the Laurentian University student followed up his appearance at nationals by spending the summer with Olympic coach Dave Ross and the remainder of the Skyrider team.

“They are pretty intense, they have two athletes going to worlds next week,” said Lapierre. “I’m training with Rosie MacLennan on a regular basis.” That would be the same young woman who claimed the only gold medal, for Canada, at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.

Joining this group, even for only a few months, was pretty much make or break time for Lapierre, in terms of gauging his potential in the sport. “When I moved to Toronto, I had already pretty much decided that I was going to put my schooling on hold – even though trampoline is obviously not a career,” he said.

“In my training, before nationals, coach Ross told me that I fit in, that I could fit in with the senior athletes. If I wanted to take it seriously, I needed to decide exactly what needed to be done to take it seriously.” Short and long-term goals would be set. “My goal for next year is to make Team Canada,” stated Lapierre.

“I need a greater degree of difficulty, a few more skills. Those few skills will come when I take my training, off the trampoline, more seriously. I need to do more strengthening, more conditioning, that will allow me to get those bigger skills to compete more consistently.”

Thankfully, Lapierre need not venture away all that far in order to ultimately reach his final objective. “I think I can achieve 90% of my goals, training here in Sudbury,” he suggested. “We have the facility, I have the coach (Seanor), and I have my contact with Dave Ross. I think I can get to where I want to go, with the team I have in Sudbury, but it will have to come from me.”

In this regard, coach and athlete are in absolute lockstep. “We have a lot of strong people here in Sudbury, they’re just not always connected,” said Seanor. “Kyle and I are working at putting together a Northern Ontario integrated support team.” It’s the type of vision that stands to benefit the next wave of GymZone athletes, just as much, regardless of where the sport fits in within the grand scheme of things.

Part of the Level 5 Age 15/16 division while making her first appearance at nationals, Pauleena Moote garnered a much better sense of exactly what might, or might not be achievable, as she balances her athletic pursuits with her grade 11 studies this fall. “After I left, my thinking was that I definitely want to go to another nationals and place better than that,” stated the teen who ranked 27th in a field of more than 40 trampolinists from right across the country.

“It wasn’t so much that I did any one specific thing poorly, but more that the whole routine was not as good as it could have been, especially since my warm-up was really good and I was really excited about it. When I competed, it just wasn’t as clean.”

Looking forward to the 2017-2018 season, Moote tempers her enthusiasm somewhat, thanks to the exposure that she enjoyed in Oshawa last month. “Watching the senior athletes and the older athletes, and seeing how big my category was, and seeing how much better the B.C. and Quebec girls were, it also gave me some reality, understanding how many girls are out there, and how hard it is to get to the top,” she said.

“I’m going to compete one more year, maybe two, but it’s not that big a part of my future. Seeing the rest of my category and how much better some of them are, it’s just not realistic at this point, especially seeing some of the younger girls who are better than me.” It was somewhat the same stage that Seb Larochelle had reached, already accepting that his 2017 visit to nationals, the second of his career, would also be his last.

“This one was a little bit different, because I came into it knowing it was my last one,” he said. An awkward entry into his compulsory routine would see the local product over-correcting, right out of the gate, forcing him to play catch-up into the final round of optional.

“I kind of hoped there was a mulligan,” he said with a laugh. “I kind of went (started) on an awkward bounce, and from there, I was trying to correct it, but it didn’t work out in my favour. I just dealt with the bad and moved on. My compulsories were bad, but I redeemed myself in the last routine - bumping up in that one made me really happy.”

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