While the loss of a lease on the building that served as the practice facility for the Craig Gym Gems Gymnastic team was a surprise and disappointment to the team, former Gems Narissa and Shayna Grammer aren't complaining about the changes that came with it.
"We are in the car for a long time," 10-year-old Shayna said. "But I like our new team and the gym we get to practice at is really big."
The Grammers' mother, Ceresa, was the coach of the Gym Gem program but after she lost her lease, she looked for a new team for her girls so they wouldn't miss a season.
"It was unfortunate because I had the most(children) signed up I ever had for that season," Grammer said. "I had to call every single one of them and tell them we had to cancel."
Shayna and eight-year-old Narissa are now part of the Grand Junction Gymnastics Academy -- the gym where their mom learned the sport.
"I like having a bigger team," Shayna said. 0"There are a lot of girls better than me I can learn from."
The girls have averaged a drive to Grand Junction once a week this fall. It is a trip that takes them out of school for a few hours, but before they joined the team they had to promise their grades would not slump.
"Their grades have actually improved," their mother said. "They want to do this so they work hard to make it happen."
In addition to training in Grand Junction the girls have been taking dance and ballet lessons.
"Ballet has helped their form tremendously," Ceresa said. "Their instructor had experience with Olympic gymnasts when she lived in Russia."
Narissa combined her ballet lessons and new skills into her routines at the Colorado State Championships for level 4 Nov. 24 in Northglenn.
Her overall score was 33.275. She needed a 32 to improve to level 5 so she'll compete at that higher level next year. There are 10 levels in gymnastics with level 10 given to those at Olympic abilities.
Narissa's best score was on the vault with an 8.9. She received an 8.5 on the uneven bars, a 7.975 on her floor routine and a 7.9 on the balance beam.
"I really like the vault," she said. "It goes really fast and you get to jump high."
While Narissa jumped right in and didn't miss a beat, it took Shayna a couple of meets to get back into form.
"I only got to practice once a week," she said. "So it was hard to get everything in."
Shayna hadn't qualified for the state competition at her level with a score of 32 or better at any of the fall meets. She was able to do that at a meet the night before her sister's in Denver.
Her 8.7 on the beam and 8.25 on the vault were the big points that helped her get beyond the 32-point barrier. She also scored a 7.9 on floor and 7.7 on the bars.
"Both of their techniques and body position have improved," their mother said. "I think it's a combination of having better talent around them to learn from, more specific coaching attention and getting stronger."
Mom still gets to coach. She has the girls do 100 sit ups and push ups every day and, when they can, she coaches them in Grand Junction when there is open gym time.
"Their grandparents live in Grand Junction so they get to come watch at practice and both the girls and the grandparents like that," Ceresa said. "The people at the gym have been good to us."
Shayna has been impressed by some of the new equipment she has to train with.
"They have this one high bar with straps that you can go really high on," she said. "I like to go on that."
They also enjoy their change in uniforms, which went from the Gym Gem's green to the Grand Junction blue.
"I like blue better than green," Narissa said.
The green may be back soon. Ceresa said that a mother of a former Gym Gem is planning to open a gym in town.
"I'm glad to see it continue," she said. "It will be good for everybody and we can have a gym to practice in more than once a week."
Until then, Narrisa has some time off from competition and Shayna will prepare for her state meet Dec. 13 in Fort Collins.
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org