Naperville gymnast Sasha Reshetar, an eighth grader at Gregory Middle School, has faced challenges her entire life.
Living with cerebral palsy all of her life
Born prematurely at just 28 weeks, she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a disability that affects movement, posture, and muscle coordination. In addition to physical therapy, Sasha has had two different surgeries to help with her cerebral palsy, but the activity that has been the most beneficial and developed into a passion is trampoline gymnastics.
“I think I was about five or six. And so my parents just decided to sign me up for gymnastics classes and I took those for a while until Coach Carter started coaching me. And he suggested that I do tumbling and trampoline. And after working on it for a while, I was able to get a full routine on the trampoline,” said Reshetar.
The difference between trampoline gymnastics and regular gymnastics
Trampoline gymnastics is different from regular gymnastics, it’s a sport that involves tumbling on a trampoline in zero gravity, which puts less strain on the joints.
For Reshetar, it’s not just something that she enjoys doing, but it’s also a huge part in helping her strengthen her muscles and improve mobility.
“So it helps me just work on using my legs because if I were not to use my legs and not do any sports at all, I wouldn’t be able to get better because my muscles wouldn’t get stronger,” said Reshetar.
One person who has helped Sasha throughout her gymnastics career so far is Kristle Lowell, her current coach at the Naperville Gymnastics Club. Lowell herself deals with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a disability that affects connective tissues in the body. Lowell, who herself has been defying the odds for many years, is impressed with how much progress Sasha has shown both on and off the trampoline, as the 14-year-old recently qualified for the Illinois State meet later this year.
“When I first met Sasha, she was not walking as well as she is now. She’s doing skills in the sport that I’m actually afraid to do. She did a backdrop or front drop. And I was like, I’ve actually never done that in the sport. So she’s surprising me every day about what she’s learning,” said Lowell.
Reshetar becoming an ambassador for the United States Tumbling and Trampoline Association
Last fall, Lowell encouraged Sasha to apply to be an ambassador for the United States Tumbling and Trampoline Association, a position that Lowell thinks will fit her well.
“She’s absolutely the perfect candidate for the ambassador program. Sasha has been so welcoming to every athlete who walks into our gym. A lot of Russian families have come to the gym in the past year, and I think that’s mainly due to Sasha because she’s always out there in the lobby explaining things in Russian that I can’t properly explain,” said Lowell.
Trampoline gymnastics has been an Olympic event since 2000. Ambassadors like Sasha are able to promote the sport as a safe and entertaining activity through her performances and social media, with a dream of seeing Trampoline become a part of the Paralympics in the future.
Beyond her new role with the U.S.T.A., Sasha continues to impress, inspire and to prove that anyone can find ways to be involved in sports, no matter what limitations may be in the way.
“If you want to do sports, which I feel like you don’t always have to do sports if you don’t want to, but if you do want to do sports, you do need to put in the work and the effort and the research to figure out what works best for you and some things you might find that they don’t work for you. And while that might make you feel like you don’t belong anywhere, as long as you keep trying, you will eventually find something that you like,” said Reshetar.
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