But That Backflip Tho!

Friday, August 17, 2018 - By: Olamide Olatunbosun, Privett ‘18; Photo by Ian McPherson

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to learn how to do a backflip. In the movies and on TV, all the “cool guys” could do one; girls love a dude who can do a backflip. As I got more into dance, I realized that the backflip was integral step to mastering more challenging tricks. Sure, I could do a front flip, but there’s just something about a backflip that makes it superior. So, after years of saying I would learn, I took action. I approached Ms Blake about arranging a trip to Duncan Dynamic Gymnastics Club so other dancers and I could hone skills already possessed - and hopefully learn some new ones. Due to Ms Blake’s involvement with the musical and my being occupied by basketball, this trip did not take off until the third term. Fortunately, we were able to get the trip arranged for Friday, April 13th. 

I must admit, being the only male in the group of 11 dancers, I felt a little out of place. This feeling only grew as we arrived at the Gymnastics Club to see little children performing flips and tricks we could only dream of doing ourselves. Upon meeting our instructor, we proceeded to participate in an exhausting warm up; most of us were on our backs gasping for air or guzzling water. Following a brief respite, we did some team relays which involved running and leaping over beams. After some stretching, we were finally able to get some instruction to help us learn new tricks. Some people were interested in learning how to cartwheel properly, others desired to do an aerial; my task was much different. 

I explained to the coach that my largest issue was the fear of going backwards, so she had me do some exercises to help with that. Following the exercises, I went over to the trampoline to improve my backflip with a bounce. The coach noticed that I was bringing my arms to my knees, rather than the other way round. After adjusting my technique, I rotated much better and gained both height and confidence. My coach decided it would come time to take my new abilities to the tumbling track. I was supposed to flip from the track into the foam pit, but again, the fear of going backwards hindered me from even attempting the move. As there were some little children who had commandeered the trampoline, I sat around, watching my fellow dancers progress. Some had grown comfortable with their newly acquired skills while some – particularly Abby S, Mack ‘21 – were still hard at work. 

With only 15 minutes left before our departure, I had all but given up on my dream. I went to the foam pit to waste the remainder of our time - when I got an idea. I saw two mats in the foam pit; I decided to try flipping off the mats into the foam pit to help with my fear. Realizing it wasn’t as scary as I had originally anticipated, I tried flipping solely on the mat. I didn’t land any of my attempts, but I was rather close. Seeing as it was almost time to leave, I deduced it was now or never – I had to try on solid ground. 

As students started to get their shoes on, I went back to the floor. I took a deep breath, took off, and closed my eyes. When my eyes opened, I was standing. It took a moment before I could fathom what had actually happened. I’d done it! I finally did a backflip! I attempted my new trick a few times before leaving the gymnastics facility, landing each one. 

As I put my shoes on and boarded the bus, I had the widest smile on my face. I’d finally accomplished my dream. On the ride back to school, many students spoke of their enjoyment and how they desired to have trips like this more often. While we don’t know if that will be possible, that trip will certainly not be forgotten by any of its attendees for a while, or in my case, ever. 

Olamide Olatunbosun, Privett ‘18

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