Growing up, gymnastics was my passion, my first love. There is something mystifying about the sport. Whether it’s that split second in the air where you feel like you’re flying or that moment when you perform an incredibly difficult skill and make it look easy, the sport quite literally had me head over heels in love with it since the age of seven.
As a nationally ranked gymnast on the junior Olympic circuit, I always looked up to the collegiate and Olympic hopefuls within the sport. Every four years, I would watch the Olympics and be completely glued to the TV screen. I wanted to be exactly like these gymnasts who performed the most difficult skills in the world under high-stakes situations. I wanted to be exactly like the guys on TV.
There were a few gymnasts who not only embodied the athleticism that I desired but embodied the values, beliefs, and attitudes that I wanted as a man. With the Olympics starting up, gymnastics fans are very excited. The Olympics is the largest sporting competition in the world. Becoming the Olympic champion is the highest honor that a gymnast can receive within the sport. One of the athletes who embodied these attributes on the elite gymnastics stage is Gage Dyer. I decided to sit down with Gage and hear his story.
At 22 years old, Gage is a Norman, Oklahoma native who began the sport of gymnastics at 13, an age considered too late to begin gymnastics with the hopes of competing at a collegiate level. Gage was able to tap into his discipline, support system, talent, and faith in order to make one of the most dominant gymnastics teams in the United States at the University of Oklahoma. Gage eventually found himself at the Olympic Trials competing for a spot on the 2021 US Men’s Gymnastics Olympic Team.
“People may think I’m this larger than life superhuman,” Gage states, “In reality, I am just a normal kid, exactly like you, trying to pursue what I love.” As someone who has felt the highs of the sport in addition to the lows of life, Gage states clear, concise, and practical things that he has learned throughout his entire journey.
Gage was a homeschooled kid who prayed for the chance to make the University of Oklahoma Gymnastics team. He knew that this dream would not come easy. “I had to take it one day at a time and not get ahead of myself.” It was a process that was slow and anything but glamorous. After years of hard work, Gage eventually made the University of Oklahoma Men’s Gymnastics Team.
Despite this being a dream come true, it began a whole other side to his life that is often hidden from the public: balancing college coursework while trying to be a college athlete. In order to compete, college athletes need to be above a certain GPA (Grade Point Average) each semester. Since Gage only took classes in a homeschool setting, he had to navigate this new world of high pressure academics. If he did not succeed in school, he would lose his status as a collegiate athlete, and his dreams would be derailed.
Simple lifestyle changes such as scheduling out days and time management can be small but crucial habits for success. “I learned practical things such as time management, scheduling, handling stress, and keeping a sane mind,” Gage states. “This stress and hardship is often overlooked by the general public, but I truly believed that it taught me discipline, work ethic and made me a stronger person.”.
As Gage was navigating the balance of collegiate school and academics, he began to steadily improve his gymnastics and ultimately qualified for the 2021 US Olympic Trials which is one of the biggest tests in an athletes life. The Olympic trials is the competition where athletes compete for spots on the US Olympic team, Gage knew that the 2021 Olympic Trials was the culmination of his gymnastics career.
“There can be the voices in your head of ‘what am I doing here’, and ‘am I good enough’, but the reality is if we take a good look at ourselves no one in our lives wants to see us fail, so when we feel this pressure ‘to not let people down’ that pressure is not from our loved one’s but rather from ourselves”.
That pressure becomes an illogical feeling because it is only created from ourselves. “By understanding that my competing is an act of worship and that my hard work is my way of discipling, I am able to deal with the pressure”. Knowing your worth and being confident in who you are as a person can minimize the “inner critic” within each of us helping to do better under pressure situations. Gage thought he would be as nervous as he has ever been throughout all of trials. Though the pressure was mounting he felt this immense gratefulness for the gift of competing. “I was so blessed just to be there that I just wanted to enjoy it.”
As the 2021 Olympic trials came to a close, Gage ended up not making the Olympic team. In society, we praise the glory stories and success of others. We do not talk about what to do when life does not go your way.
“Most people would think that I would be absolutely devastated,” Gage exclaims confidently, “but in reality, that could not be further from the truth. Growing up I dreamed of being at the Olympic Trials and I cannot stress enough how blessed I am to even be there. Many of my role models within the sport that I grew up watching were there to cheer me on. I just wanted to be myself and not be this false person out there and because of this I am as happy as I can be”.
This mentality that Gage possesses is something that we can implement in our daily lives. By finding clear things that we are grateful for, the hardships of life can be put into perspective and despite our culture trying to “ignore the pain and suffering” we can truly realize “what the why is” for your individual life.
For Gage, his why is his faith and the love and support of his family and friends. For you, it may be something else. By showing constant gratitude, life gets put into perspective. This may seem small, even too small at times, but too often we do not realize the power that is in this one act of surrender.
As Gage left the Olympic Trials, he was able to reflect on his entire journey. “Too often many people want life to happen on their time. The truth is that life is on God’s time,” Gage shared. When asked what a Christian needs in their life, Gage immediately stated that “a Christian must be willing to have patience.” This theme bleeds into the idea of acceptance.
Gage observes that “The world is so crowded with stories of Christians being Bible beaters who judge and dismiss people quickly.” Everyone is on their own journey and by having patience for everyone’s own unique journey, we as a church can be a more accepting community. “I am a firm believer in walk by faith, not by sight. By being myself and growing in patience, I am helping the church develop a mindset of acceptance, love, and grace.”
The many aspects of our life can often feel disconnected, but when we work on something within ourselves such as patience, we come to realize that these works begin to reappear in different facets of our life. By working on patience, we find that growth can manifest itself in helping struggling Christians, atheists, and anyone in between find acceptance within the church.
When talking to someone like Gage, we can view him as this larger than life superhero, however, Gage can teach us some practical life lessons that we can implement within our daily life. We all can learn from his story. Whether you’re a student trying to graduate, or a small business owner, Gage has some insight into how we can be the best versions of ourselves. Small things such as starting a gratitude journal, getting to the root cause of your stress, or growing in virtue, we can begin to improve mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Jacob has always been passionate about athletics. He enjoys anything active, outdoors, and with people. Jacob desires that every Christian stays true to their own individual gifts and talents rather than become the ideal person people may want us to be at times. He has been an avid leader in local youth groups, mentor to others, and even a Christian Missionary in Scotland. Jacob is currently studying Business and Marketing through the Minnesota Community College program. He would love to get to know you and your own story as well. If his story resonated with you or you need someone to talk to reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.