Cody Jaspers ‘17 is used to the feel of chalk coating his callused palms, as spending countless hours at the gym has become routine. While most students head home after the final bell, Jaspers spends three hours familiarizing himself with sore muscles and parallel bars, fully immersed in gymnastics.
“My parents thought I should [do gymnastics], because I had a yoga class in my pre school, and I was really flexible,” Jaspers said. “At first, it didn’t make a lot of sense to me, I didn’t know how everything worked or what was going on.”
Jaspers soon became well familiarized with the rigorous nature of gymnastics. After a full day of school, he attends practice at the Field House five times a week — Monday through Friday.
“Sometimes it feels like it’s not enough [practice] because there are six different events,” he said. “I feel like I need more [practice], but sometimes I need a break,”
Gymnastics is based on levels one through 10, 10 being the highest level before competing at college level. Jaspers currently competes as one of the youngest in his division.
“I am young for my level, and it’s really intimidating because a lot of people are really good,” Jaspers said. “I enjoy it because I get to see a lot of other competition, and I get to see what I should be at my level.”
Jaspers attends frequent competitions, also known as meets, in which he, along with the other male gymnasts compete in six events: floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars, and high bar.
“One of my events [Pommel Horse] is practically based off of breakdancing,” Jaspers said. “There’s just a lot of unexpected things in gymnastics.”
Although he enjoys it, Jaspers’ time-consuming hobby comes at a cost, as it leaves less time for schoolwork and other priorities.
“I try to be efficient as I can in my study halls, and if I can’t do [my homework] then, I do it after school,” Jaspers said.
In addition to juggling schoolwork and gymnastics, Jaspers has had to completely adapt to switching gyms and coaches, a process that led him to consider quitting the sport altogether.
“There’s a lot of trust involved [between a gymnast and the coach], so If you get a new coach, you have to learn to trust them,” Jaspers said. “It was really rough [to switch gyms] because I didn’t know the coaches or the people, I had to build up trust for them again.”
Along with the adjustments he made in result of his coach switching to coach at the University of Iowa, Jaspers has had to face the dangers involved with gymnastics when his teammate broke his leg while doing vault.
“It was really rough for [my teammate] because he had to get back into it and I had to help him,” Jaspers said. “I use to do [vault] and now I don’t anymore because of that.”
Although categorized as an individual sport, Jaspers believes his teammates play a huge role in aiding him through the tough competition.
“It’s kind of nerveracking to compete because I know that some routines don’t go as well as they should,” Jaspers said. “ So the team really does help a lot. They motivate you and keep you going.”
Jaspers plans on continuing gymnastics at the high school level, and is considering going on to compete at the college-level.
“I like being able to do the exquisite things involved in gymnastics, it’s really unique,” Jaspers said.” It’s unlike football or basketball where you just throw a ball around.”