Olympic Dreams: Young athletes tumble their way to success in Luzerne County

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PITTSTON TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The world is watching with admiration as the USA gymnastics team dazzles with their endurance and skill, and some area youngsters are watching very closely. Eyewitness News spent some time with young gymnasts who have Olympic dreams of their own.

Mastering the art of gymnastics takes years of dedicated practice. And for many young athletes, the journey to Tokyo begins at their community gyms and training facilities.

“I love being able to get, reach new skills. And it feels so good when you do, because it feels like you accomplished something, which you did,” said Gianna Altavilla of Wilkes-Barre.

Almost all of us can agree that flipping through the air is no easy feat.  The thought alone might even be daunting for some. But the gymnasts who stunt at the Got Skillz tumbling gym in Pittston say, it’s a whole lot of fun.

“It’s fun, and you build a family. And just, it’s cool. It’s a fun thing to do,” said Natalee Banashefski, from Wyoming.

These gymnasts say it’s a combination of passion, commitment and excitement to learn new things.

Their coach, Stephanie Graziano, guides them along the way, from late-night practice sessions to competitions on the road. She says it also teaches girls valuable life skills.  

“This sport that we are all in, we all perform. So not only do we practice inside the gym, but then we go outside and we perform for everybody else. So, they have to be confident. And it helps them with their schoolwork, and it helps them in their social environments because it just opens them up and takes them out of their shell.”  

Gianna, Natalee and their teammates have quite a few role models to look up to in the world of gymnastics, including some of the biggest names in team USA Olympic history.  

“I look up to Simone Bile’s because there’s been skills named after her and she just has had so much success that as I get older and older, I want to be able to have that much success,” Gianna said.

Maybe one day we’ll be watching these young gymnasts fulfill their Olympic dreams.

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