Arlington -- If you're going to make an effort to be a gymnast on the boys' team in Arlington, there is a prerequisite.
"The first thing they needed to do is to believe that it is possible," says Arlington ISD gymnastics coach Devin Jenson, "and then we have to find a way to get there."
Getting there is substantially tougher for gymnasts in Arlington.
Out of the roughly eight thousand male students in the district's 6 high schools, there are only three taking part in the gymnastics program, and only two compete.
Jake Kravitz and Eli Phillips, both from Arlington Martin, are a couple of David's routinely facing off against Goliath-like gymnastic powerhouses in the area.
"Honestly I embrace it, whenever we go against those big teams and I hear all the cheering that gets me fired up," says Kravitz, "that gets me motivated."
What they lack in manpower they more than make up for with work ethic, and desire, even in the face of another issue. The school district's sole gymnastics facility is housed in this grade-school gymnasium. It's anything but ideal.
"And we've really had to try to create that fire out of some trigs, essentially," says Jenson. "It would be nice to have some logs, to have a nice roaring fire."
The expectations are low, but that hasn't affected team goals. They've found strength in the being the underdog, and it's showing.
"It does come down to a lot of we know what we're in for so let's prove them wrong," says Kravitz.
Their quest to achieve their goals in the face of difficult circumstance provides fuel for Arlington Martin's gymnasts. That fuel put to good use at their recent regional meet.
They faced off with gymnastic heavyweights like Saginaw and L.D. Bell high schools. It was basically two young men, just two, against all odds.
But they pulled it off. Phillips earned a trip to the state championship meet in the floor exercise. Kravitz punched his ticket in the all-around, meaning he'll compete in all events
"Whenever I heard that from Arlington Martin Jake Kravitz, that overwhelming sigh of relief, joy, happiness, every emotion just ran into me at once," said Kravitz.
"You feel ecstatic, it's just I made it," said Phillips, echoing the sentiment. "I get to go to state and show what I've got."
Actually, we already know and you can believe, it's the right stuff.
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