At the 2013 World Gymnastics Championship in Belgium, it was Simone Biles' turn to "wow the crowd." Making her debut at the elite level, Simone Biles earned 2 gold medals, 1 silver medal and 1 bronze medal. Her stunning artistry put the "world on notice" and heralded the arrival of a gymnast to watch.
Aimee Boorman, the long-time coach of Simone Biles couldn't have been more happier, having worked with her since the age of 7. In this interview, Boorman discusses how she and Biles (now 16) began working together at Bannon's Gymnastix in Houston, Texas, and what it takes to become an elite athlete.
A. I competed in gymnastics from age 6-18. I began coaching to help pay for my tuition. I discovered that gymnastics was my passion and when I couldn't perform in the sport anymore, I would coach professionally.
Q2. What is it about the sport that you love so much?
A. I love watching kids grow. Gymnastics is more about life than just being a sport. It teaches you about respect, dedication, time management, drive...I could go on and on.
Q3. At what age did you start working with Simone Biles? How did that relationship develop and evolve?
A. Simone started at Bannon's when she was about to turn 7. She was in our compulsory program for a little over a year. At that time, I began coaching her. The relationship has developed over the years. Kind of like a parent, I have watched her grow into a strong, confident young lady. I think that we have a good bond and we don't take each other for granted.
A. A good relationship is key because there has to be a lot of trust involved. Athletes have to be able to clearly communicate how they are feeling (physically and emotionally) each day. They have to know that they can trust their coach unconditionally.
There are a lot of gymnasts that strive for the elite level. However, it take a delicate balance of talent, dedication, knowledge, drive and sacrifice to achieve this level, from all parties involved (coach, athlete, family). It is not an easy process. It has not always been easy for us. We have had our trying times, but WE all persevered through them.
I don't think that there is a magic formula or a time when you really "know." You keep working to be your best, regardless of the level you are at. That is our philosophy.
Q5. What are some of the major sacrifices and benefits regarding the training for elite competitions?
A. From a coaching standpoint, my greatest sacrifice is being away from my family. From World's selection camp through World Championships, I was away from home for 4 weeks. I have 3 children and a husband at home. My savior is my mother, who lives with us. It is really because of her that my life runs smoothly as I pursue my career.
I know that Simone has had to give up going to public school. She is home-schooled at the gym in order to meet the demands of her training schedule. No Homecoming. No Prom. No weekends out with the friends.
I know that for both of us, it is an honor to represent the United States in international competitions. It has been an amazing experience for both of us.
Q6. Please describe Bannon's Gymnastix? What should parents look for when evaluating any type of gymnastics program?
A. Bannon's is your typical neighborhood gym. We run all kinds of programs. The focus is on building good people who love gymnastics, at any level.
Parents should look for a place that they feel safe with their child and that their child LOVES going to. Kids should want to go to class each week. It should be the highlight of their week. If their child is in the competitive program, they should look for a place with great communication between the coach, athlete and parent. Our parents are free to meet with us whenever they deem necessary. They have to trust us...they are handing their babies over to us, after all.
A. Our journey has had its ups and downs. Simone is a natural talent. Once Simone decides that she is going to achieve a new skill, she will usually get that skill within a week, or so. Right now, we are definitely on a "high," but there is so much more that Simone can accomplish in her career. Really, she is just starting.
Q8. This has been a "breakout moment" for both you and Simone. What are both of your future plans, as well as plans for Bannon's Gymnastix?
A. Simone's breakout moment as a Junior was US Classic last year, where she won the All-Around. This was the first time that she really stood out in the elite world. Then, after a poor performance at the US Classic this year, she came back to win the National Title 3 weeks later.
Our plans at Bannon's are "business as usual."
Q9. What gymnasts does Simone Biles admire and why?
A. You should probably ask her that...but she usually says that all of the "Fierce 5" are her inspiration.
Q10. Is there anything else that you would like to share?
A. My goal as a coach is that when a child is done with gymnastics, for whatever reason, that they leave the sport "loving it." I want them to cherish the time and experiences that they had in the gym. If they do, I have done my job!
To learn more about Simone Biles, visit her website at
http://www.gym-style.com/ and click on her name.
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UPDATE: As of 2016, Simone Biles "wowed the world" by becoming gymnastics "Most Decorated Gymnast!" winning 5 medals at the Rio Olympics. No doubt, Biles will continue to inspire!