It is 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning, and while many teenagers still have hours of sleep ahead of them, Eileah Cotter, Cassidy Mose, Ashley Cadwallader and Macy Hurley are awake and sitting close together outside of a building near Storey’s Beach. The teens stand when their coach Heidi Falconer-Mathieson arrives and unlocks the door to Funtastic Gymnastics and Trampoline Centre. These girls are the Funtastic Acronauts, a dedicated and closely-knit team of trampoline gymnasts. Once inside the gym, the girls sit amidst trampolines and other gymnastics equipment in the high-ceilinged room and intermittently stretch and catch up. Trampoline gymnastics is an Olympic discipline that sees athletes performing multiple somersaults and twists. Double mini trampoline allows for more acrobatic performance with athletes doing one exercise on a mini-trampoline and another on the landing mat. The Funtastic Acronauts recently competed at provincials in Port Moody from May 15-17. Hurley placed 19th in trampoline, tied for 6th in finals, and overall placed 10th. Mose placed 10th in mini and 10th in trampoline, Cotter placed 23rd in trampoline and 20th in double mini, and Cadwallader 19th in double mini and 23rd in trampoline. Falconer-Mathieson explains that nerves kept the girls from doing as well as they had hoped at provincials. Mose echoes this, saying that the hardest part of competing is standing in front of the judges. While anticipating the upcoming Western Canadian Cup June 12-14, Falconer-Mathieson explains that the team is working on training to compete and not letting the stress of the event get to them. “They are going to go into Westerns feeling like the underdogs,” she says, explaining that this attitude may help them be more relaxed.
Following warm-up the girls stand and while they begin to get ready to jump, they reflect on what their favourite part of competing is.
“Travelling. And the food!” says Cotter, explaining that they have a Boston Pizza tradition. Mose loves meeting all the people at events. The foursome take turns launching off the trampoline into the air, ponytails and limbs flying while Falconer-Mathieson stands and watches, periodically giving encouragement and advice to her team.
“These are some of the strongest girls at the high school,” she says proudly, noting that Hurley can bench press 110 pounds. As she speaks, Mose and Cadwallader scurry up ropes that hang floor to ceiling, posing happily at the top. Falconer-Mathieson says that the team is about way more than just trampolining. As well as the obvious benefit of keeping the teens busy and engaged, this is a group that also learns the importance of taking care of each other, responsibility, and self-sufficiency. “I make them responsible for each other,” she says. “Teaching them to be a person, to be a family and how to get by in the world.”