My childhood gymnastics coach will always be in my life

To The Coach Who Never Quit On Me

You will always be family to me.

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One of the best feeling gymnastics ever brought me was knowing you were proud of me. I began gymnastics knowing one thing: I loved being upside down. Nothing felt more natural than flipping through the air and defying gravity. Nothing felt greater than landing a new skill and seeing your reaction. Your approval was everything to me. It made me great. It made me strong. You never quit on me, and for that reason, I never quit on myself.

You were there for me, practice after practice, competition after competition. You were also there, making sure I never cheated on my sets, ensuring I was becoming a better gymnast and an even greater person.

I always knew who you were. You were the head coach, the one to impress, the queen in my eyes. I remember one day, in particular, an in-house gymnastics meet hosted by our very own club. You weren't my coach yet, I knew you didn't even know who I was. But I remember seeing you coach the older girls, the ones I looked up to. It was from that day on I made it my mission to be noticed by you, so that one day, I too could be one of the older girls who every young gymnast aspired to be.

As a gymnast, I was good. Looking back, I don't remember how I did all that. I must have had a good teacher or something. You taught me passion and hard work, the importance of integrity and the value of teamwork. Most of all, you taught me resilience.

In gymnastics, you never know what's coming. One day you can be training for your first Level 10 meet and the next, you could be in a wheelchair, which more or less happened to me. What I'm trying to get at here is that injuries are inevitable.

But you never left my side. You were there on the floor for me the minute you saw me go down. You were there for me, comforting me when the doctor told me I would need surgery if I ever wanted to do gymnastics again. You were there for me that entire competition season when I was on the sidelines, knowing how badly I wanted to be out there competing myself. You took me to every competition I would be missing, showing me the importance of being there for my team all while ensuring I was never forgotten. You were there for me when I made my comeback to the sport and you were there for me when I told you I was quitting gymnastics for good.

Years later, I don't focus on the pain the sport brought me. I don't focus on the fact that I spent nearly five hours after school Monday-Friday at practices. I don't focus on the gold medals or even all the hard work I put in. When I think of gymnastics, I think of all the lessons I learned, from the sport and from my coach. I am who I am because of it.

As an adult now, I will continue to make you proud. I may be too old for the monkey bars, but I will continue to work hard in whatever I do, just like you always taught me.

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10 Women Who Have Influenced My 18 Years Of Life, Every Day

They have empowered me to be the best woman I can be.

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Being a woman today in society can be either challenging or empowering based on the factors presented. Specifically, society has given women challenges and obstacles to over not only in today's society but in the past as well. Women have tackled these forces by empowering one another. As well, the women that we surround ourselves with or allow us to influence us can determine how we not only view life but how we feel about ourselves. In the United States and all over the world there has been a long line of powerful women throughout generations that have personally influenced me and maybe have or may influence you too.

1. Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama, where do I start?! She has influenced millions of people not only in America but all over the world by being the individual she is and loves to embrace. She is a remarkable, beautiful, confident and empowered woman who is not afraid to speak her mind and loves helping others in many ways — such as telling her own personal life stories and experiences. She has made America envision themselves as a healthier version both mentally and physically. She is a lead advocate for healthy families and high education being provided for those all over the world. As well, she has mainly influenced me by what she has done not only today for America, but what she has done in her past to get where she is now. She focused on her education and herself rather than boys during her younger years and it is truly inspiring to see where she is now.

2. Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe showed society that everyone and everything is beautiful. That everybody shape, hair color, and flaws. She made what society considered imperfect and made it into something beautiful — no wonder she was considered a beauty icon. As well, she was able to turn a frown into a smile by always thinking and finding the positive in a situation rather than focusing on the negative. She has influenced me by making me realize the positives in life and that every inch of a person is beautiful in their own way. Forget about societal standards!!

3. Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn was not afraid to show the world who she was- consisting of a talented and beautiful actress who devoted her free time to helping those in need. She was not only a fashion icon but was someone who showed the world that you can have the best of both worlds by being who you are. She showed compassion to those around her and filled the world with more smiles at the time — demonstrating her influence over the world.

4. Malala Yousafzai

Education should be an automatic right instead of a privilege for not only men but for women all over the world. She has taught me and other fellow women, to take education more seriously and be grateful that we have been given this opportunity to learn while some women and men all over the world would love to have the opportunity I do. They would love the opportunity to go to school and learn about the world. She has gone through so much and truly is an influence to those all over the world as she fights for her cause. She decided to speak up, and so should we.

5. Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is a powerful writer who can convey not only her emotions and message to her readers but a story- a combination of heartbreak and love. She has influenced many generations-future and past, through her writing. She paints vivid pictures in her poems that can teach lessons and evoke empathy from readers. She has taught me to show my emotions and tell my story in any way I can- to not be afraid of what I may say and use my voice through writing.

6. Ellen Degeneres

Ellen Degeneres has influenced me in a multitude of ways, specifically how to have a good and fun time in life because you only get one. She has also taught people — including me, through her show to be okay and confident with being yourself and what you stand for. Previously, years ago she came out as a lesbian and her show got canceled — but she did not let that define her, she redefined herself and grew confident with who she is and now is one of the most popular women in America.

7. Margaret Sanger

For those who are unaware of who Margaret Sanger is, she was an activist who fought for women's reproductive and health rights and was the founder of Planned Parenthood. She fought and was dedicated to her cause to fight for women's health rights and reproductive rights. A lot of people — including other women and men, shut her down and even physically silenced her. However, she was a hard-working, passionate, and dedicated women who pursued her ideas, which led to Planned Parenthood. She has influenced me to keep working towards my goals and pursue what I believe in.

8. Susan B. Anthony

If it was not for Susan B. Anthony and the struggles she withstood, women would not be able to vote in America. She not only fought for her generation of women to vote but for future generations of women to vote as well. She gave women a voice in political standings and that we are and always will be equal to men.

We, as women need to continue her fight and continue using the voice she gave us by voting and not only continuing, but also pursuing the fight of women's rights.

9. Oprah Winfrey

Okay...who does not love Oprah??? Please, do tell me. She is stunning in every aspect possible-whether that be through the way she talks, thinks, and walks. She holds pride and confidence in every step she takes in life and donates her fortune to those in need. She has taught women all over the world how to be proud, courageous, passionate, successful, and not accept anything less than what we, women deserve. Her words are truly inspiring and are great to live by without any exception.

10. Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks is someone we all learned and read about during our younger school years and more in depth later on. She left a lasting impression on me by being the person she was and the qualities she possessed. She was a strong and hard-working woman who stood up and fought for what she believed was right, no matter the potential consequences. These qualities Rosa Parks held, I hold close to my heart and use in my daily life to describe myself. I choose to be a hardworking and strong woman due to the influence Rosa Parks had over me since such a young age.

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'Captain Marvel' Shares An Important Message That Shouldn’t Be Underestimated

Captain Marvel is an important movie from the perspective of the young audience it addresses.

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(This article is without spoilers.)

From the time Captain Marvel was released, on March 8, there has been a lot of press surrounding the movie. There have been parties both advocating for and arguing against the character that Bree Larson brought to life. Controversies, particularly, were plenty; from media sources and generally, people critiquing Lardon for her lack of smiling during promotional events (to which Bree Larson had an amazing comeback) to the parallel derision and celebration of the idea of a feminist Marvel movie.

I personally watched Captain Marvel a couple of weeks after it was released and after having minimal preconceptions, including avoiding watching the trailer and scanning any reviews. I'd avoided spoilers and newspaper articles for the most part simply because I wanted to form my own opinion. I had done the same with Wonder Woman and Black Panther because of the extreme expectations placed on the cast, crew and whole conception, itself.

I'm not gonna lie. I took some issue with the progression and flow of the plot, and some of the character development was patchy. However, that's not what I primarily took from the experience of watching it.

When I exited after watching, the first thing I saw was an excited little boy jumping enthusiastically after walking out of the theater. Aggressive, playful bouncing with a fake blaster was interlaced with "Guys did you see that?", "And then she kicked him in the back!", and "That was so cool!" What I could reflect on was how little anything other than Captain Marvel could be a topic of conversation in my class of second-graders and how they would run to play as her on the playground. I could feel their shaking anticipation when both my boys and girls talked about which superheroes to be for Halloween and they could go back and forth debating being Wonder Woman or Captain Marvel. I recognized how disappointed one of my fifth-grade newspaper students was when he realized he couldn't write a review for the school paper because of the movie's PG-13.

Because when you're ten and see a hero on screen that speaks to you and who you identify as, you're not following the consistency of the character arc and how the narrative follows the 3-act structure. It's not that Rotten Tomatoes comprises a team of elementary schoolers who write professional reviews.

As far as I'm concerned, and as far as I believe most people should be concerned, if the next generation of filmmakers and movie-goers find themselves wanting to experience more movies that present positive messages and instill self-confidence then we've done our job as the generations that will give them that. Our role is to identify and understand the value of these movies and characters and pass them along. Look to the kids. They know what they're talking about.

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