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Flipping for camp

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Nearly 60 kids showed up for the 2018 Connersville Gymnastics Camp, held this week at the Connersville Gymnastics Center. The numbers this year are an all-time high, according to camp director Joann Borders, beating last year's record number of 45.
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Six-year-old Memphis Adams shows that he can do the splits, during warm-ups at the Connersville Gymnastics Camp, Wednesday at the Connersville Gymnastics Center. Adams was one of 58 youths attending the camp, which is held annually.
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Five-year-old Ada Vu stretchesprior to the start of Day 2 of Gymnastics Camp at the Connersville Gymnastics Center on Wednesday afternoon. At the camp, the kids were taught skills on floor, tumble track, trampoline, vault, bars and beam, among other things. The camp concludes on Friday.

By GRADY TATE - gtate@newsexaminer.com

The gymnastics team is one of the most successful programs at Connersville High School, winning 19 sectional crowns since 1982 and claiming the state title three years straight in 1987, 1988 and 1989.

Daisy and Dixie Combs hope to be a part of that someday.

The 10- and 11-year old sisters were among 58 youngsters in attendance at the annual Connersville Gymnastics Camp, held at the Connersville Gymnastics Center this week.

The camp has been teaching kids gymnastics skills for quite some time, director Joann Borders said.

"I've been doing this for at least 20 years," she said.

She added that this years group was the largest she's ever had.

"Last year, we had a record 45 kids, but this year, there's quite a few more," she said.

She credits word of mouth for the steadily increasing numbers.

"I think the kids last year and in years past have had so much fun at the camp, that they've gone back and told their friends about it," Borders said.

She also pointed out that each camper receives a T-shirt, and that last year's apparel, a red shirt with a white gymnastics logo and lettering, was a big hit.

"On Red and White day at school, the kids from the camp last year wore that shirt, and everyone was asking them where they had gotten it," Borders said with a smile.

Most of the kids at the camp have been in gymnastics for some time. In some cases, they've been at it for years.

But the three-day camp still appeals to them.

"I learn different things at this camp," 10-year-old Haylie Richmond said. "I learn things like back hand-springs and other skills."

Richmond has been in the gymnastics game for two years, and said that this is her second camp.

Learning new things seems to be a theme among the young tumblers.

"I just wanted to learn some of the new things at the camp," Dixie Combs said.

Ten-year-old Gracie Hornsby, a competitor with a year-and-a-half of experience, echoed that.

"I wanted to learn some new skills," she said. 

While learning is important, Daisy Combs had a different reason to attend.

"It seemed like it would be a lot of fun," she said.

Both Combs girls have participated in gymnastics for a few months, and both hoped the extra instruction would help spring-board them in the sport.

For Cora Nobbe, 8, this was her third go-round at the camp.

"I was doing gymnastics for a couple years, but then left the sport to try playing basketball," she said. "I am just now getting started back into gymnastics, so I thought going to camp again was a good idea."

Throughout the three days, campers learned skills on the floor, tumble track, trampoline, vault, bars and beam, to name a few.

And though high school gymnastics is a girls sport, there were several boys at the camp this week.

"This is a great camp for boys to attend," Borders said. "Where do you think a lot of divers in swimming get their start? Most of the boys who take gymnastics at this age wind up stronger, faster and quicker when they get older.

"Gymnastics really promotes those three things in these kids."

For Borders, who is also the Connersville High School gymnastics coach, getting the kids started early in the sport can help the Lady Spartans down the road continue their success on the mat.

At least, that's the hope.

"We used to run this camp, and afterward, the kids would sign up for gymnastics in big numbers," she said. "Last year, however, that didn't happen."

In the end, however, Borders says that the camp isn't as much about the future, as it is getting the kids to enjoy the spirit of the sport, right now.

"The ultimate goal of this camp is to give the kids an experience of what gymnastics is all about," she said. "That really what we're trying to do here."