“All of us feel that is nothing short of a miracle.”
Team captain receives a prestigious award.
Student-athletes from Highland View Academy traveled to Michigan from Nov. 10-14 for the school’s first overnight gymnastics tour since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The HVA Aerials gymnastics team visited Grand Rapids (Mich.) Adventist Academy and Andrews University (Berrien Springs, Mich.) in a trip organized after the North American Division-wide Acrofest gymnastics gathering moved to a virtual format because of the pandemic.
“We wanted to have something for the team to work towards,” says Matt Price, HVA Aerials coach. “The whole point of our gymnastics program is that it’s Christ-centered gymnastics. Everything we do on the mats is to try to reflect our Christian values, and it’s important that we don’t just keep that to ourselves but are sharing it with others.”
After performing in Grand Rapids on Thursday, the Aerials traveled to Andrews University to train alongside the university gymnastics team, as well as a team from Indiana Academy (Cicero, Ind.). The highlight of the trip was when all three schools performed on Saturday night.
Following the performance, the Aerials gathered together to watch the Acrofest virtual event where teammate, Ana Lopes, was presented with the Heather Boulais Courage Award. Each year, the award is given to one gymnast from an Adventist school who demonstrates extraordinary spiritual and leadership qualities and academic and athletic excellence.
“I’m very honored to have Ana as part of our team,” Price says. “She’s been on the team for four years, and she’s been a team captain for three of those years. She lifts up her teammates, and she’s always willing to help.”
Lopes feels honored to receive the award. “I feel grateful, not because I got recognition, but because of how much God has blessed me,” she says. “I’m grateful because God gave me the ability to do what I do, and He gave me parents who pushed me to use those abilities to glorify His name. I’m also beyond grateful that He gave me coaches [who shared] their love of Adventist gymnastics with me.”
The trip was meaningful to many student-athletes who have seen many extracurricular activities canceled because of COVID-19.
“It definitely felt good to travel again for the first time in two years,” says junior Samuel Machado. “Our team is like a family, and we had a great time traveling and working together.”
Freshman Riya Pandit agrees. “I thought it was awesome!” she says.
“I had a super fun time traveling with the team. We worked really hard, and it was great to see it come together.”