McKenna Bernier, left, Angela Bolduc and Lauren Bolduc cheer after Audrey Bolduc had a a good performance on the bars during a gymnastics meet Saturday at Kents Hill. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

 

 

KENTS HILL — If Audrey Bolduc is nervous when she competes in gymnastics, she doesn’t show it. Audrey goes from event to event calmly and confidently. If she has butterflies in her stomach, Audrey has tamed them.

Her parents, on the other hand, are all nerves. For Angela and Chris Bolduc, watching their 11-year old daughter compete is as soothing as an audit.

“I competed in sports my whole life and never got nervous. But I get so nervous watching my daughter,” Chris said.

On Saturday, Audrey competed in the Northeast Regional YMCA Gymnastics Championships at Kents Hill School’s Alfond Athletic Center as a member of the Waterville YMCA team. In a few hours, Audrey will cap the strongest day of her two-year competitive gymnastics career. Audrey will do very well. Not one second of this day will be discouraging.

Waterville’s Audrey Bolduc competes in the floor exercise in a gymnastics meet Saturday at Kents Hill.  Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

But that won’t be known for a few hours. Right now, the day is just beginning with the floor competition, and Angela, Chris and members of the family are settling in to watch. The venue isn’t far from the family’s Readfield home.

“She is pretty level-headed,” Angela said of Audrey. “No superstitions. She doesn’t seem to have the nerves Chris and I have for her.”

Gymnastics is Audrey’s favorite and only sport. She’s at the gym training three days each week, 10 to 12 hours each week. In the family’s basement, Audrey has a balance beam and mats. When Audrey took part in her first competition last year, in Rhode Island, it was just her and Chris. With three other children, Angela couldn’t make the trip.

“It was just me and all the gymnastics moms, trying to make sure her hair was all right and everything was perfect. She did all right, though,” Chris said.

Angela and Chris both lean forward as Audrey begins her floor routine. The trick of the floor routine is to make it look smooth, as if you’re executing everything smoothly, without a thought from one move to the next. Audrey does well, getting a score of 9.525 (on a 10 scale).

“That’s really good. That’s an excellent floor score for her,” Angela said.

Last year, Audrey placed 10th overall in this competition, also held at Kents Hill.

“I wasn’t prepared for how many kids would be here,” Angela said.

The waiting between events is hard, Angela said. It can’t be good for athletes to warm up, then wait around for the next thing. With so many competitors, it’s also unavoidable. Angela hopes Audrey doesn’t cool down too much before the vault.

Not a chance. Audrey sticks both her vault tries, coming away with a strong score of 9.55.

“She’s had a hard time on vault this year and hasn’t managed above a nine. That was her best vault of the season,” Angela said.

Next is the bars. Oh, those uneven bars. Audrey loves the bars. Angela hates them. For Audrey, who has practiced leaping from bar to bar so often she lets muscle memory take over. Angela’s muscle memory is the slight flinch when she watchers her daughter.

Waterville’s Braeley Beaman competes in the floor exercise during a gymnastics meet Saturday at Kents Hill Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

“One slip of the hand, one slip of the foot,” Angela said. “They don’t know how dangerous it is… All it takes is one time, one slip.”

One slip does not come Saturday afternoon. Audrey used to be into dance, and Angela notices that helps in the bars, as her daughter’s form is strong.

“One thing she does not have to be reminded of is, point your toes. She does it naturally,” Angela said.

Audrey’s score comes up, 9.5. Daughter and mother make eye contact, and Angela gives a pair of thumbs up. Audrey’s mouth is open, part smile and part shocked “did I do that?” gape.

One strong event is nice. Two is a trend. Three is, is this really happening?

Now Chris and Angela are doing math. With just the beam left, Audrey needs only a score of eight to better her best-ever score. She’s doing great, but nobody knows how great yet. They aren’t paying attention to other athletes, and have no idea how Audrey stacks up to the rest of her age group.

“As parents, we say it looks good to us, but what did the judges at the table think?” Angela said.

Chris hates the beam. The beam is a scant 4 inches wide, barely wide enough for a foot. It requires precision and dexterity and you might be able to squeeze a penny into the room for error.

“So much stuff can go wrong on the beam,” Chris said.

Throughout most of Audrey’s beam routine, Chris is a statue. He sits perfectly still, fingers crossed. When it’s over, he gives a right fist pump. He knows she did well. The way Audrey greets her coaches, she knows she did well. Now all they need is the judges to validate their hunches with the score…

It’s 9.375. With an overall score of 37.95, Audrey blows away her previous best. Is it enough to win the all-around?

The Northeast YMCA competition is a three-day event. Audrey competed on just Saturday, but she was there as a volunteer helping out on Friday. Angela thinks that helped stoke her daughter’s competitive fire.

“I think she gets pumped up. She was here volunteering (Friday), so she was excited,” Angela said.

At the awards ceremony, Audrey may as well stay on the podium. When they get to floor, the fourth of the four events to be announced, and Audrey’s name is announced in first place, Angela turns to Chris and mouths two words. Even if you can’t read lips, the excitement in the silent exclamation is clear. Two words, and all the nerves from the day are replaced by pride.

She swept.


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