STURGEON BAY — When you think of Sturgeon Bay and sports what do you think of? Maybe fishing?
It’s actually home to national champion gymnasts from the Striver Gymnastics team who train at the Door County YMCA.
“We always tell them practice like you would compete and so when they get out there, it’s just a replication of what we do in this little gym,” said Striver Gymnastics coach Nikki Pollman. “It’s just in a bigger, loud, obnoxious environment.”
The team had three national champions and ten gymnasts overall who placed in the top 10 at the 2022 YMCA National Gymnastics Championships in Toledo, Ohio that wrapped up last weekend.
“For this small community that we have and the draw we have – we keep up with Joneses I always say,” Pollman said. “We go against teams that have 80 to 100 participants. This year because of COVID, we had 11 girls on the team and 10 of them medaled at nationals, so we got some depth and we’ve got some really good gymnasts.”
The three national title winners were pretty shocked when they went up to the podium, because while they compete they really have no idea where they stand with so many competitors competing at one time.
“I was really surprised and I was so happy and I didn’t really know what to say. I just walked up there with a big smile and was super happy,” said Shaylyn Asher who earned her title on the vault with a score of 9.25.
“I halfway didn’t really expect because I have never really been to nationals before. I felt really proud of myself when I did win,” said Amelia Zoschke, who earned a score of 9.25 to win the floor title in her division.
“It just hits you, you’re like, Woah. I just got first at nationals,” It’s an incredible moment where you’re so proud of yourself.” said Anna Gallardo-Ibarra, who earned a floor title in her division with a score of 9.4.
With such a small team the Striver gymnasts are a close-knit group that love seeing each other succeed.
“They all mean so much to me and just to see them excel and be the best that they can possibly be is just so incredible,” said Gallardo-Ibarra. “It just makes me so proud to be their teammate.”
Coach Nikki Pollman is in her 25th year coaching the Striver gymnastics team, safe to say she’s a huge part of their success.
“She will tell us what we’re doing wrong, but also tell us what we’re doing right, Gallardo-Ibarra said. “She wants us to push ourselves, but not to the point where we break. I think that she’s a very important person to all of us.”
“The biggest thing is they listen,” said about her team. “Gymnastics is a lot of focus and lot of listening to the coach and being able to handle corrective criticism without taking it personally.”
Most of all, Pollman says the secret behind their success: making sure the girls have fun.
“The expectation is fun. It’s fun. That lightens it and I think kids are more receptive to learning when you can add that component. Gymnastics doesn’t define them. It’s just a speck of their life that we enter into and I think that helps them rise to the occasion, said Pollman.