Two Maui gymnasts from Valley Isle Gymnastics claimed All Around State Champions trophies at the Hawaii State Championship held at the Kona Aerials Gymastics in Kealakekua on the Big Island. Shyanne Sheldon of Kihei emerged as the All Around gold medalist, vault silver medalist, balance beam silver medalist and floor exercise silver medalist for the Level 4A division (nine-year-olds). Shyanne’s all around score was the second highest of the entire meet, regardless of age division. Makena Derby of Kaupo emerged as the All Around gold medalist, uneven bars gold medalist, floor exercise gold medalist and balance beam bronze medalist for the Level 4 division (11-year-olds).
“That weekend, when I heard the entire audience erupt in a deafening ovation for these anonymous underdogs from Maui,” says coach and owner Rusty Gage, “I’ll be the first to admit I got teary-eyed. It was so heart-warming to watch these happy young ladies receive pseudo-celebrity like recognition for their innocently being who they truly are.”
There are gold medalists for each age group within each level. This competition was for Levels 4, 5 and 6 gymnasts. Sheldon has been training at VIG for almost three years while Derby has been at the gym for over two years.
The team wouldn’t attend inter-island competitions without the motivation and resourcefulness of the parents of the athletes and the initiative of Shannon Sheldon. Sheldon has spearheaded fundraising efforts from holding a dinner evening at Stella Blues to seeking donations from individuals and businesses.
“One overnight meet can set a family back as much as $1,000 simply because of travel and accommodation costs,” says Gage. “We’re working on seeking out more local businesses and individuals who see what we do at VIG, understand the values we present and reinforce with the young people we influence, and are willing to donate financially toward supporting that end. In this generation of entitlement, I believe there’s nothing more important we can do with our future leaders than teach them the value of a strong work ethic. I can think of few sports that require a higher work ethic than that of competitive gymnastics.”