By Ashley Lodato

If you spend every Monday and Wednesday evening doing back flips, aerials and kips, you’re probably one of the three young gymnasts who travel to Wenatchee twice a week for gymnastics training.

Amelia Bondi (12), Jess Dinham (13) and Gabby Studen (11) are part of the Apple Valley Gymnastics team of competitive gymnasts and they’ll all be competing at the Red Carpet Invitational Cup in Wenatchee on Saturday (March 4), along with 100 other girls from all over North Central Washington.

The event, which is open to the public, features the girls’ skills on the floor, the vault, the beam and the uneven parallel bars.

The three Methow gymnasts got their start tumbling locally with Jeff Monahan in his two small gyms, but they eventually became so passionate about the sport that their families made the decision to haul the kids down to Wenatchee twice a week so they could fully immerse themselves in the upside-down world of gymnastics.

Says parent Becky Studen, “Gabby loves everything about gymnastics and practicing at Apple Valley Gymnastics. She says that when she does it, she feels like she’s flying and that it is the best feeling ever. I love that Gabby is fearless when she is doing gymnastics.”

Jess’s mom, Janice, says she thinks that “Jess’s love of gymnastics comes from the thrill of achieving mastery on a particular skill or routine. It takes long hours of working on the big stuff and the small stuff — overcoming fears, getting stronger, being disciplined. When it all comes together — both the physical and the mental — there is great satisfaction.”

Kim Bondi, Amelia’s mom, talks about Amelia’s “physical connection to her body, the practice and hard work that present themselves in the competitive meets, and the combination of strength, balance and grace.”

About the long drive to the gym, Becky says “I used to shake my head in disbelief at parents who drove their kids to Wenatchee to participate in sports on a weekly basis, but I get it now.” Becky acknowledges how fortunate she feels to have other families sharing the support of their children’s dreams, as well as sharing the transportation.

An idea about an upcoming column has been presented to me: “The Untold Pasts of Methow Valley Residents.” We all tend to know about the former Olympians in our midst, but what about the builder who used to be a bank vice president? The attorney who was once a runway model? If your former life was vastly different than your current life, and if you’re willing to share, please get in touch with me. Whether checkered or not, your past is of interest to many.


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