Kam Wilcox’s love for gymnastics has shaped him for the better

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When someone says “trampoline,” most people imagine a backyard full of energetic kids who burn their energy by bouncing on a trampoline until they drop with exhaustion. But after one look at the gravity-defying, and rather strenuous, routines put on by high school gymnasts, that image changes completely.

For an endless number of hours, high school and older gymnasts train, twisting and turning to make their routines of ten skills utter perfection. Simultaneously, they must also train their brain to be somewhat numb to any possible fears that they could have during their performance. Junior Kam Wilcox is quite familiar to that degree of training and has been doing so for about seven years, after completely falling in love with it when he was younger.

“[Gymnastics is] hard because it’s not just a sport where you have to work really hard, but it’s also mentally rigorous,” Kam said. “You will get scared because you don’t want to get injured, and you may not even want to try new things because you have that fear.”

To overcome the mental blocks and fears that come with gymnastics, especially trampoline, can be extraordinarily difficult. Any mental breakdown and lack of energy mid-air could cause one to lose themselves in the air and become out of routine and character. Understandably, many gymnasts have experienced that fear and exhaustion, including Kam.

“When Kam has been worked pretty hard, you can see it on the tramp,” coach Anthony Castillo said. “When he has his bad days, all he needs is a little confidence booster and a break. We have three-hour practices almost every day, and that can wear on someone’s body and mind.”

However, because of his diligent attitude and desire to overcome every obstacle, Kam’s fears no longer hold him back. In fact, he uses his fears as an example for fellow teammates at his gym, Aerial and Baranis, by inspiring and guiding them past any similar fears his team may have.

“Kam’s biggest strength mentally is his ability to coach other kids and the ability to coach himself too if he needs,” Castillo said. “Kam loves to coach kids more than he does to compete, and it really helps out as a coach because I can’t be in all places at once.”

This mentally rewarding feat, along with the innumerable amount of time spent at the gym together, has made Kam and his teammates incredibly close, making them more like family than just a team.

“[To put it simply, gymnastics] is just fun,” Kam said. “I’ve been at this gym for so long that my team is my family. The gym is basically my second home because I’m there half of my summers.”

The bond forged between Kam and his teammates have brought them beyond best friends to the point that they are each other’s biggest supporters and role models.

“There’s a lot of good influence at my gym because all the people at my gym are really nice and really accepting,” Kam said. “They just want you to be the best that you can be. It kind of rubs off on you as you grow up and mature in this environment.”

For sophomore and teammate Evan Nickel, Kam has been a major influence for his gymnastics. Kam constantly encouraged Evan to join Aerials and Baranis a couple years ago, and since then, their relationship has grown deeper through their common interest in gymnastics and in drumline for the band program.  

“Every so often in seventh grade, Kam would come up to me with a video of his progress or beg me to join the team,” Evan said. “I did eventually listen to him and join the team. Kam has been a good, close friend.”

As both a supportive teammate and as a constant friend, Kam is helpful to those around him, while also brightening their day with his sunny outlook on life.

“The thing I appreciate most about Kam is his love and compassion for his teammates and friends,” Castillo said. “He always shows that he cares more about them than himself, and I think that’s why he’s so successful. He has so much support but also gives out so much, and it’s awesome to see.”

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