The Metro Gymnastics of Osceola is the longest established gym in Osceola County. It’s also the smallest in the state, according to owner Carol Emery.
But it now has one more footnote – national champion.
The five-female team took the title on June 16 at ESPN Wide World of Sports in the Small Team division.
They are Marissa Feliciano, 10, Leighanna Vaughan, 15, Emily Gierscher, 13, Callie Diehl, 11, and Avery Ferrera, 10.
Combined, the team won seven gold medals, three silver and five bronze medals.
“They cleaned house,” said Carol.
Coach Taylor Emery headed up the squad five years ago, training the young gymnasts to reach for success. It obviously worked, as this is the first year they became national champs.
“We have always been the smallest team,” Coach Taylor said, adding that he has trained as little as one athlete at times. “We just learned how to embrace being the underdogs all the time and it’s finally come to the point where its given us drive.”
Everyone of the gymnasts won first place in one individual competition before taking the overall team win.
For Emily, the win was redemption from a prior competition.
“The last time I did nationals, I got last place,” she said. “This time, I got first place. I was very excited.”
It’s a tight knit team that has grown so much together, said Leighanna.
“We see everyone as family,” she said. “We are all like sisters.”
One of Coach Taylor’s winning strategies was for the girls to imagine they were actually at a competition while at practice.
“I’m really happy and it’s special to me because it shows how much I’ve worked to get to nationals,” said Avery, who took gold in the beam and floor exercises.
Next year, the goal is to repeat.
“It just shows how ward they can work,” Carol said. “It doesn’t matter how big you are, it all depends how hard you work.”