March 2021

T E X A R K A N A M O N T H LY

ALL CHALKED UP BY SHELBY AKIN PHOTOS BY MOLLY KENDR ICK

I n July, people from all over the world will eagerly tune into the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics. Coronavirus or not, the Olympics is a long-standing tradition that the world’s best athletes look forward to competing in every two years, and the show must go on! Among the most popular events, gymnastics draws a loyal following of millions, worldwide. Young boys and girls from gyms around the globe cheer for Olympic celebrities competing for the coveted gold medals. Growing up, University of Oklahoma freshman, Gabe Smith, was one of these children watching the Olympics, wide-eyed in front of the television. Watching events like the Olympics grew Gabe’s passion for gymnastics and drove him to overcome a serious injury, times of fear and adverse situations to find success in the world of gymnastics. Gabe knew if he were going to be an elite gymnast, it was going to take hard work, dedication and perseverance. Gabe has risen to the challenge. The son of Tricia and Bryan Smith, Gabe attended Kindergarten through twelfth grade at Pleasant Grove Independent School District in Texarkana. “I began gymnastics around the age of three at Joni’s Dance and Gymnastics Center,” Gabe recalls. “My sister (Angel) was the one that originally inspired me to try out gymnastics. When

I was little, my babysitter worked at a gymnasium and suggested my sister and I try it out.” Gabe and his sister share the same hard work ethic and passion for fine arts. Once a gymnast herself, Angel is now a full time professional dancer in Los Angeles. Gabe nurtured his love for gymnastics throughout his childhood and into high school. The first coach he remembers pushing him to new limits was Lloyd White at Northeast Texas Elite Gymnastics (NETEG). As Gabe grew older, he realized that his talent might could become more than a hobby. “Coach Robert Sellers has definitely made the biggest impact on my gymnastics career,” Gabe states. “Throughout high school, he gave me the foundation I needed to be where I am. Without him, I wouldn’t be.” With a focus on the vault and rings, Gabe’s list of accomplishments and awards is not to be understated. He is a Level Four and Level Five State Champion, and a Regional Qualifier for Level Ten. When asked to list his accomplishments, Gabe considers overcoming a serious injury in order to continue to pursue his dream as a gymnast to be his greatest personal victory. “In December 2019, I found out I fractured my lower back and needed to wear a brace for four months. I was told that I may never be able to

33

S P O R T S & E N T E R TA I N M E N T

Made with FlippingBook - Online catalogs