Guest post: The REAL skills learned in gymnastics

Way back in the day, we had a small team. When I say “small”, I mean I was going to meets around the Midwest with just one athlete. That was the optional level (Levels 7-10) team. Our gymnast was Breezy Neerland. She was a great kid and a good gymnast. Training was pretty personalized and she was easy to coach. Since then she has been through college and now runs the family business. We spoke awhile ago and she told me that she wanted to create a place for women in the male dominated industry of Extermination services. Of course she did. Breezy was never one to sit back and let the world come to her. I knew she would do what she said. I knew she would be a leader. She can’t help it.

So we talked a while back and she shared how she was getting profession al conference speaking engagements, and starting an professional organization for women. She told me how she attributed a lot of her drive to being a gymnast. There was a lot to her development. A great family, supportive schools and friend groups and several other coaches that helped her along the way, were all ingredients in her success. I asked her if she would be willing to jot down some thoughts on that subject and, as I figured, she delivered. Please read her take on the tricks, skills, and benefits that gymnastics has shared with her.

Growing up I was a competitive gymnast for most of my adolescence. During my time as a gymnast, I
learned many skills. From flips and twists to leaps and turns and everything in between. While those
skills were awesome, they were more of tricks. What I didn’t see at that time, was the true skills I was
learning that would help to shape my future.
When I was a kid, I was doing what I loved. I loved to learn new things that not everybody could do.
When my time as a competitive gymnast came to an end, I began coaching. Taking the passion I had
and sharing it with a new generation of gymnasts. It was when I was coaching that I started to see the
bigger picture. I wasn’t just teaching tricks; I was encouraging true life skills. Skills that went far beyond
the gym walls. Skills such as discipline, dedication, and leadership.
Fast forward to today, I am 32 and still using the skills that my time in the gym taught me. Almost eight
years ago I switched careers from microbiology to pest control. Since joining the pest control industry, I
have excelled from a Service Technician to Operations Manager. I hold some of the top certifications
that can be obtained in our industry, have been featured in national publications, spoken on multiple
platforms including national stages, hold a seat on our state board, started a local chapter for
Professional Women in Pest Management, and received numerous awards and acknowledgements. I
truly believe that all these accomplishments could not have been done without the skills that were
taught to me through gymnastics.
In life, just like gymnastics, it takes discipline and dedication to make a difference. Success doesn’t come
over night or without challenge. An important part of success, regardless of the degree, is failure. In
gymnastics, you rarely land a new skill on the first try. You must do drills repeatedly to build the
foundation for the skill. Even then, you will fail. You will need to shake it off, reset, and get up to try
again. Without discipline and dedication, you cannot persevere through the failure. Professionally,
some days it feels like one step forward moves me two steps back. But every time I need to reset, I
expose a flaw in the process. Discipline allows me to improve the process, every time. Dedication to the
bigger picture and my goals, allows me to continue pushing through, even when I feel I am stuck.
Another important life skill that gymnastics taught me was leadership. While being a leader is a
personal choice, the skills for leadership are intertwined within the sport. To be a great leader, you
must have discipline and dedication that is fueled by passion. When those qualities are out there for
everybody to see, you instantly motivate those around you. As your passion begins to motivate others,
you become a role model. The definition of a role model is somebody who is looked to by others as an
example to be imitated. Once you have become a role model, it is up to you to become a leader. Every
competitive gymnast I have ever met has discipline, dedication, and passion. If they didn’t, they would
not be able to overcome the challenges of the sport. To lead is to guide, motivate, and support those
around you. Just as teammates in the gym guide each other on drills, motivate each other through
friendly competition, and support each other through difficulties.
Sports are not just a way for children to release energy, they are the foundation to necessary life skills.
Success is whatever makes you feel fulfilled, and it always comes with challenges. The skills learned
through sports help to shape our youth to be successful, no matter what their future may hold. I am
forever grateful for the lessons that gymnastics and a stand-up leader of a coach taught me.

-Breanna Neerland

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