This was a surprise photo, filled with surprise meaning. It was taken at the Chicago Style Gymnastics meet in February, 2015.
Initially it was going to be a missed photo since I feel strongly about respecting the National Anthem. But there was something about the way these gymnasts were standing after the struggles they’ve had all year, that moved me to take the shot.
I’m so glad I did.
For me, it shows a focus, a drive, a dedication, a fierceness that will never be broken.
…even when some were injured
…even when most had painful rips in their hands
…even after a very tough year with tough scores
…even after drama that they should not have experienced
…even after a decision by some to move on at years end
They dedicate themselves to something bigger than just a sport.
They strive to be the best women they can be.
They share a deep experience they’ll never forget.
They seem to stand before the world saying:
“I am ready to face whatever comes”
“I am proud of who I am, regardless of what happens"
“I am at my best when I stand side-by-side with you"
“Don’t worry…I got your back"
…and at least one of them, my daughter, seems to say:
“You may not know what it took to get here, but that’s OK. I won’t brag. I’m just doing what I love. If I get recognition…great. If not, well, that wasn’t really the point anyway. When it’s done, it will really seem like just the beginning…like I was training for something bigger...so that the wisdom, confidence, and focus I’ve gained will help me in each future moment of my life."
I love you, Julia. I’m so glad I got to experience this journey with you. I can’t wait for the next one!
Photo note: I also learned that while I could greatly improve my camera gear, at that particular moment, more important than the right gear was serendipitously being in the right location, the right angle to the flag, and low enough in the bleachers to get the shot.