Gymnasts train for big test

Published 10:19 pm Monday, July 10, 2017

Local gymnasts are preparing for their next big test this Thursday.

The Coastal Point gymnastics team practices at Windsor Gymnastics on West Windsor Boulevard, although the two are not affiliated. The team is run by Deborah Burgsteiner and her son, Kyle, and features 16 young gymnasts from Hampton Roads and North Carolina.

“I’m very passionate about helping the kids,” Kyle Burgsteiner said. “I feel like we have a good rapport with the kids, me and my mother.”

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Of the 16 on the team, eight are in the Talent Opportunity Program, a talent search and educational program for female gymnasts ages 7 to 10. These gymnasts are evaluated during June and July, and their next big test will be this Thursday at Excalibur Gymnastics in Virginia Beach.

“I’m hoping to make a good bar routine,” said 8-year-old Coastal Point team member and Suffolk native Macaela Viola.

The team practices up to six days weekly. Members range in skill levels, with the lower levels practicing 12 to 16 hours weekly, while the highest levels practice up to 32 hours, according to Kyle Burgsteiner.

“Training is very hard,” said 11-year-old Coastal Point team member Madison Carr from Murfreesboro, N.C. “The warmup that we do every morning and afternoon is like an intense endurance routine, and you can’t stop.”

In the Junior Olympics Program, competition is organized by different ages and skill levels. Gymnasts at levels three to five all compete using the same routines, and at level six they’re able to design their own routines. At level eight and beyond, these athletes compete at even higher levels to work their way through state, regional and national competitions.

“I just enjoy coaching elite gymnasts,” Kyle Burgsteiner said. “My goal is to coach elite athletes that may one day be on the national or Olympic teams.”

Their performances this Thursday in TOPs state-level testing will determine whether they qualify for national-level testing this October at the National Team Training Center, located in Huntsville, Texas, at Karolyi Ranch, owned by legendary women’s gymnastics coaches Bela and Marta Karolyi.

Coastal Point gymnasts that advance to the ranch this year will compete against thousands from across the country.

“They’re testing to try and qualify to be one of the top kids in the nation,” Kyle Burgsteiner said.

He has coached women’s competitive gymnastics for the last six years, and he has trained many of the Coastal Point teammates going back years before the team was organized last year.

These young gymnasts spend hours in conditioning and strength training, and hours more on vault, bars and balance beams, simply because they enjoy the experiences.

“I like doing all the routines,” said 10-year-old Coastal Point team member and Suffolk native Addison Parkman, who is on the team with her 8-year-old sister, Reagan. “I like handsprings, and I like to flip on the beam.”

Carr has been practicing gymnastics for five years. She is the only Coastal Point teammate at skill level 10 — the highest for Junior Olympics — and in the Hopes program, which fast-tracks athletes towards Elite levels of competition.

She said all the hard work is much easier with her teammates cheering her on.

“Some of my teammates have come out to my meets this year,” she said. “It’s just fun to have a bunch of teammates there to support you.”