Photo by Jeylin White
Jasmine Brown, who will compete in the 2011 Junior Olympics, in San Antonio, Texas, poses with the medals she has won during several gymnastic competitions on the state and local levels.
By Jeylin White
Jasmine Brown, a 12-year-old who attends Clayton County's M.D. Roberts Middle School, is riding on cloud ten these days, as she prepares for her trip to San Antonio, Texas, this weekend, to compete in the Junior Olympics.
"I'm so excited, I can't wait to do it," said the young gymnast. "It is the Junior Olympics, so I'm a little nervous. This is big for me."
Jasmine was 4 years old when her mother, Patty Mosley -- a Language Arts teacher at Babb Middle School -- first noticed her daughter had a gift. "She was little, and I used to notice her flipping around," said Mosley. "I started to notice right away that she had some type of ability or skill, so I said I'm going to put her in gymnastics."
Life for the two of them has been filled with classes and competitions since then. "It was a lot of work, and you have to give up a lot of your time," said Mosley. "She had a lot of meets, so, financially, it was challenging at times."
But, the sacrifices, and the years of competing in local and state-level meets, have paid off. Brown, her mother said, is now considered No. 1 in the state, in tumbling, in her age group.
"They compete on certain levels according to their age, against other young ladies," Mosley said.
Brown's determined journey to the Junior Olympics started a year ago, when her mother enrolled her in a local tumbling group, called, "Flip City South," part of a non-profit organization, based in Henry County, and founded by Frank Riley.
Mosley said she noticed that her daughter was more geared toward flipping and tumbling, and "Flip City South" was one of the only gyms that catered to her interest. "From there, Coach Frank Riley just kind of molded her to be able to flip and tumble even more. She's been able to compete, and has done very well."
Riley said he is a former tumbler, himself, and when he moved to Atlanta, he wanted to find something he could do to give back to inner-city youths. "Besides having them play football and basketball, I wanted to give them another outlet, so we started Flip City South, for tumblers," he said.
Once he got the group off the ground, Riley said, he started taking notice of some of the kids' talents and abilities. "I was like, some of the kids are good, and I thought to myself, maybe we can compete," he said. "Then we started competing locally, and in state competitions. We were winning. Then, went to regional competitions, and won; then national competitions."
He said that, after a while, some in his group were able to qualify for the Junior Olympics, and this will mark the third year some of his tumblers have competed in the event.
Brown, he said, is one of the 13 youngsters, who will compete this weekend. Riley added that, in order to qualify for the Junior Olympics, an athlete has to compete in two local competitions and two Georgia competitions, then qualify in the regional. "There's a qualifying score that you have to get to compete in the Junior Olympics, and all of my kids qualified for nationals in the first competition they went to," he said.
Junior Olympics is one of the biggest competitions in the nation, he said, with close to 4,000 kids from all over the United States participating.
For Brown, prepping for this competition wasn't easy. "It took a lot practicing," she said, "I practice, like, three hours a day, and, sometimes, four hours on the weekend." But, she said, "It's going to be really exciting. If I win -- I mean, I will win," she said jovially. "I will try really hard."
Mosley said she just wants her daughter to have a good time. "I want her to enjoy the sport, and do the best that she can do. She is very competitive, so I do expect her to do well, because she likes to win."
According to Brown, however, the Junior Olympics won't be her last stop. Her ultimate goal is to make the U.S. Olympic team. "I've been doing this for seven years," she said, "I will try really hard to make it, and do a great job."