TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) Three local gymnasts now hold state championship titles and their accomplishments are inspiring considering their team has only been around for a short period of time.
In the summer of 2014 Starla Paulsen decided she wanted to offer dance and tumbling classes after recognizing a void, so she contacted the YMCA in Twin Falls to ask to rent some space.
"We started with 30 kids that fall, and grew to today as of right now we have almost 280 kids," Starla said.
Two years ago she took the leap into competitive gymnastics and opened up her own gym.
"There's two different kinds of gymnastics you can do. The first is called the Junior Olympic or JO as we call it. That is level 1-10 we have levels 2-6 right now, but we will have girls moving up. That's a much more intense, dedicated track of gymnastics," Starla said.
Her JO team was in Pocatello, Friday through Sunday, where three girls brought home All-Around State Championship titles, and every girl who competed placed no lower than sixth.
Maizee Olsen won the Level 3, Senior All-Around State Championship title, Kamree Vanderbeek won the Level 3 Junior All-Around State Championship title, and Courtney Gentert won the Level 2 All-Around State Championship.
"Then there is another track called Xcel that is a little less intense, a little more economical and it's for kids who want to play other sports,” Starla said.
Regardless of which track a gymnast pursues at Fierce Athletics, it’s fueled by motivation to win.
"The expectation is the same, we still raise the bar very high. We're not big on participation trophies here. If we go, we train to win. If we go, we train to win. Doesn't mean we always win, and that's fine. But we go to try to win," Starla said.
Looking back on the past two years, Starla had no idea her program would grow and become successful this quickly.
"To realize the magnitude of the success, and to look at my numbers and see how many kids I have, and how many parents that believe in what we do,” Starla said, “I knew that we had a mission, and my coaches believed in that and I knew where I wanted to go and that's probably been the hardest thing to just make sure we stay true to who we are."
The Xcel team will be in action at their state meet in Boise this coming weekend.