ELNORA — North Daviess junior Madi Webster arrived at North Daviess early Tuesday afternoon with her mom and gymnastics coach, hoping to get back in the classroom, but what she got instead left her speechless.
Webster had just returned from Sophia, Bulgaria after winning a gold medal in the Double Mini Trampoline event and an eighth place finish in the Trampoline event for the 15-16 age group as part of the World Age Group Competition.
Webster arrived at the school gym to thunderous applause from the staff and entire student body. After Webster’s gymnastics coach at Tumbling Express, Crissy LaFollette, said a few words, the microphone was handed over to Webster, but she couldn’t find the words.
“I’m speechless,” Webster said.
Madi began doing gymnastics on a daily basis at age seven, and over the past nine years her skills have evolved to the level of a world-class talent on the trampoline. Madi’s mother, Christina Webster, said her daughter is one of a kind in that she is always setting goals and writing them down. Her mom said she is lucky to be able to see the humble, selfless attitude that has allowed her to have so much success at such a young age.
“She’s just really focused,” Christina Webster said. “When she was little she was always bouncing around, so we put her in gymnastics, but we had to take her out for a while, because she was only four years old. We put her back in at seven and she has just loved it. I asked her if it’s something she wanted to do and she was bouncing off the walls and climbing everything. It’s just something she is meant to do, I think. She picked up on things naturally and would just flip and people would show her one time how to do something and she could just do it.”
Coach LaFollette said the best trait Madi possesses is that she wants to continue to work and get better at her craft.
“You can tell that the talent is there, but she’s not one of those super talents, where it is all God-given and you don’t have to work for it,” said coach Crissy LaFollette. “She’s the best kind of athlete, because she has the God-given talent, but she has a great work ethic, which keeps her working hard every day.”
As she prepared to go to Bulgaria for this competition, which featured some of the best and brightest young gymnasts in the world, Webster tried to keep her expectations in check.
She wanted to earn a medal in both events and try to continue to improve on her abilities.
“My expectations were to meet my goals, which were to medal in Double Mini, which I got first and to make the finals in Trampoline, which I did,” Webster said. “It means a lot to me and shows my passion and determination toward the sport. All the hard work and sacrifice has paid off.”
Now that she has reached the top of her age group, Webster doesn’t plan on just sitting back and relaxing. The next step is the Youth Olympics since Trampoline is now an Olympic sport.
The Youth Olympics, which start in next August, will have trails in April, May and June. The World Championship team is also something that Webster and LaFollette are thinking about.
“There is only one boy and one girl from each country chosen,” LaFollette said. “She wants to make the World Championship team especially on Double Mini, we don’t know if she’ll make the trampoline team or not, because it is for girls 17 and over. Our current Olympian, who finished sixth in the Olympics is only 20, so she’ll be returning, along with the four girls who competed this year. At the World Championships they take five, so we’re hoping to break into that, but if not she can go to the World Age Group Games for trampoline.”
Keeping focused will be one of the most important priorities for Webster as she goes forward after such a great showing in Bulgaria. Webster has more goals set for herself, and resting on her laurels isn’t in her game plan.
“I’m watching my competition and asking, ‘What are they doing? Are they slacking?’,” Webster said. “If so, I’m not going to slack. I want to stay up with them and be the best than I can be.”