Reflections on Wheel Weekend
Big Wheel Weekend, if you don't already know, is this awesome event that happens every March and October in Chicago. Cyr and German wheel enthusiasts of all skill levels from all over the country and the world gather in a gym over three days for coaching workshops, skill-based workshops, competitions, and camaraderie. I've met some of my closest wheel friends at Wheel Weekends over the past five years, and since some of the same people tend to keep coming over and over, you get to know them pretty well.
Last weekend was another great example of everything I love about Wheel Weekend. Although the national U.S. Open competition is usually held during March Wheel Weekend, this year USA Wheel Gymnastics decided to change things up a little bit and hold a preliminary national competition called the "Chicago Cup" instead. The U.S. Open competition will happen later in the year, at the end of June, in Cincinnati.
Over the past year and a half or so, Luke and I have started coaching a competitive wheel team in Madison. Our first crop of wheel competitors was all juniors (ages 17 and under). This year, we also have a handful of seniors, which is exciting, and the total number of competitors from Madison is greater than the number coming from any other city, which is AWESOME!
Watching our students compete was the highlight of the weekend for me. I have seen them through every stage of the process, so I knew there had been times when they were terrified, nervous, discouraged, etc. But when competition time came, they were prepared. Every single one of them went out there and did their routines with grace, confidence, poise, and professionalism, even though it was the first-ever competition for many of them. I was so, so, so proud.
And if I may also brag about them, they did AMAZING. Scott placed fifth for senior men. Kristina and Natalie placed fourth and fifth for senior women, respectively, and I placed first for senior women. Garret tied for first for junior boys. Lily, Miriam, and Eliya placed third, second, and first for junior girls, respectively. I repeat: SO. PROUD!!!!
And as much as I dislike many aspects of wheel competition, I was happy to be reminded about what I love most about it, which is the overwhelming sense of support and community. No one is petty or looking to take someone else down. Everyone is supportive, encouraging, kind, and genuinely wants all of the other competitors to do the best they can. It's refreshing and wonderful and reminiscent of the support that I find permeates and characterizes most circus communities. So thank you, wheelers, for being some of the nicest people on the planet.
Here are links to my competition routines from the past weekend: