Members of the GymZone Sudbury Laurels Trampoline & Tumbling team are in complete agreement: the 2019-2020 competitive season ended far too early for their liking.
Yet if it must end early, best that it end on a positive note.
As was the case heading into the second qualifier, Connor MacDonald entered the third event in the series looking to mobilize to Level 6. "Mobilizing" is essentially defined as having sufficiently mastered an established skill-set, whereby the level of difficulty of the skills, combined with the ability to demonstrate those skills cleanly in competition, meets a standard that is worthy of being promoted to a higher level.
"In the second qualifier, it was just a terrible day," said MacDonald. "I just wasn't hitting what I was usually doing at practices and stuff. Heading into the second qualifier, I really had myself focused so much on mobilizing, and that's what ended up throwing me off."
"I knew that I could execute, and it just happened (at third qualifier)," added MacDonald, looking back on the meet that was held just over a week before the pandemic effectively shut down all amateur sport in Ontario.
"He's worked hard all season to be able to mobilize to Level 6," acknowledged his coach, Ali Weslake. "It's the level just below junior. He cleaned up his passes and put some bigger skills in and was able to pull it off, so it was a super successful competition, for sure."
While there are a myriad of technical requirements that must fall in line in order for his tumbling pass to come together in the manner that coach and athlete envision it, MacDonald suggested that there are some pivotal elements that tend to have a greater impact on the final outcome.
"For me, the most important part is the run and the round-off - that's usually make or break," he said. "If I come in sideways for the round-off, then everything else is going to be a little bit wonky, and I spend the whole pass trying to correct it."
"If I nail the run and the round-off, then the whips just kind of come, and then you have the end skill."
"At second qualifier, he had the proper difficulty level, but did not gain the score, just because his skills weren't as clean," explained Weslake. "We went back and worked on exactly what we wanted to do. He simply wasn't able to execute them as cleanly for second qual as he did for third qual."
According to MacDonald, there isn't even the need to wait for the posted scores to know that the end goal was achieved. "I definitely have that feeling, right in the middle of the pass," he said. "Just before the back hand-spring, you're whipping your feet over and you know that you've nailed it, and you hit just the right spot and it feels so good, that height, and you whip around with a double pike or double tuck or whatever skill you've got."
"It's just the greatest feeling."
And Connor MacDonald wasn't the only local enjoying great feelings in Oshawa.
"We had quite of few athletes that qualified for provincials, almost the entire team, which was pretty exciting," said Weslake. "Oliver Thompson made the Eastern Canadian Championship team. And Hector Loiselle had already mobilized to national level, so we moved him up for third qual, just because the difference in skills wasn't that drastic."
Being away from the gym will almost certainly require a bit of recalibration, in the fall, or whenever athletes can safely resume their workouts. "It will be tough, because they will not have trained for so long, so we may have to work up to things," said Weslake.
"At my house, I'm fortunate enough to have a backyard trampoline," stated MacDonald. "It's not the greatest trampoline out there, but it's definitely something that gets me rotating, gets me practicing some of the skills."
"I hope that by doing all of this, when we get back to the gym, it won't be too hard to hit the restart button."
MacDonald and company will draw on the memories of a season that ended too early, but at least ended well.