Sending a tribute to a special niece

Published 9:45 am Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The topic of my tribute today is my niece. She ended her tumbling career at age 18 with 14 national championships.  She lives in an area that is a Mecca for gyms and coaches in Tumbling. She started her career at age two with cheerleading lessons that developed into Tumbling lessons. Her first national championship (If I remember correctly) was at age 6 in Davenport, Iowa. I was there. My niece was always in the top flight. (elite)

The Blue Angels flew over as we entered the gym in Davenport. I took it as a message from my deceased Dad (He was a pilot.) that he was aware of her talent and that day. I was a talented acrobatic dancer. The talent runs in our family. I have a T-shirt from that day.

My niece won the gold at the Jr Olympics several times. My niece had competition every weekend until she qualified for national trails. She had to progress to State Championship etc until she reached national competition. My brother provided transportation for her all over the United States for competitions. It must have been quite an expense on him.

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My niece qualified for and did in fact train in Romania for a couple of months. If you wonder why she didn’t go to the Olympics, Tumbling wasn’t recognized at the Olympics at the time.

I was there for another national competition in St Louis. There was a man-made geyser in the pool at the Hotel and an art outdoor Mall adjutant to the Hotel. I remember the beautiful pottery in the Mall.

My niece did her homework in the car on the way to the Gym. She was also a good student and a cheerleader.

For another competition in Miami, (not a national competition) the whole family went on a cruise to the Bahamas. We stopped in Key West, Nassau, and Stirrup Cay which is a private island owned by the Norwegian ship.  I had attended a funeral the day before we left. Someone who had the flu sat next to me. I came down with the flu in the Bahamas.

When we were in South Miami at the outdoor Mall next to the Hotel, we encountered what I call “the Blue People.” They were painted blue from head to toe. They did not move until you gave them money. They would shift positions slightly. You couldn’t even tell they were breathing.

The food in the Mall was excellent, plentiful and economical. I bought a T-shirt. While we were in Miami, we ate at Bubba Gump’s. I had boiled shrimp. The waiter asked us questions about the movie “Forrest Gump.”

The buildings in Nassau are painted bright colors such as pink, orange, and yellow etc. There was an artistically carved watermelon on the ship and many activities such as chocoholic night with a chocolate buffet. Everywhere  we went on the cruise there was freshly squeezed orange and grapefruit juice.

My niece is now married, a teacher, and has a 3-year-old daughter who is taking Tumbling lessons. My brother said sports kept his children out of trouble. My niece has a brother who was an iron man and is Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.

Hats off to Heather! She is a champion.


Judy Davis writes guest columns for The Oxford Eagle.