Taking gymnastics by storm

Office manager Becky Doerfel from Gymnastics Unlimited reached out to the OBSERVER to ask if we could run an item about Alivia Penman.

Doerfel wrote, “She travels to West Seneca four days a week to gymnasts practice. She is really excelling this year and because she doesn’t live in the area never gets any recognition that I believe she deserves in our area.”

Alivia, a 10-year-old Level 5 Orchard Park Gymster, has been taking gymnastics by storm this season. Starting in July, she was selected to participate in a nationwide test of strength, flexibility and skill called TOPS (talent opportunity program). Alivia qualified as the best in the nation to go the National Training Center at Karolyi’s Ranch in Texas. This is the same program that many Olympians, such as Gabby Douglas and Jordan Wieber went through to launch them into elite gymnastics.

Since meet season started in the fall, Alivia has placed first all around in three large invitational meets in Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo in the month of December.

In January the Level 5 team traveled to Utica for a state competition. Alivia was crowned the state all-around and bars champion. She also was the silver medalist on both vault and beam.

Her run has continued in the second half of the season. At the Nickel City meet, she placed first on bars and second in the all around with a 36.75. The OPGymsters as a team are very excited to see what the rest of the season holds for Alivia.

Alivia’s mom, Kelley, has been instrumental in providing the opportunity to compete for her daughter.

She said, “I started her (in gymnastics) at a young age because she couldn’t sit still.”

Kelley has been making an 80-mile round trip commute with her daughter from Sheridan to West Seneca several times a week since 2006 so Alivia can compete with the Orchard Park Gymsters.

When asked if the commute was hard for her, Alivia said it wasn’t.

“I take a nap and sometimes I do my homework,” she said.

Alivia wants to continue in gymnastics.

“I like it and it’s fun,” she said.

Alivia is a fourth-grade student at Silver Creek Central School.