Madisyn Weber becomes first AIM gymnast to receive college scholarship

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Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald Madisyn Weber (with paper) became the first AIM gymnast to earn a college scholarship. She signed a national letter of intent to compete at Arizona Christian University.

MOSES LAKE — Madisyn Weber said she has a “love/hate relationship” with gymnastics.

Love won out Thursday when Weber became the first AIM gymnast to sign a national letter of intent to compete collegiately at Arizona Christian University.

Natassia Garcia, Weber’s coach, began advocating for her gymnast and in October Weber visited Arizona Christian’s campus. She was offered on the spot, her only choice if she wanted to continue her gymnastics career.

“I was surprised,” Weber said.

Weber began at AIM 13 years ago, but has been practicing gymnastics for about 15 or 16 years, she said. Since she was about two years old.

“She’s always been super talented,” Garcia said.

That means four-hour practices four days week. The grueling hours were rewarded as Weber became the first Level 9 gymnast at AIM after spending three years at Level 8. That kind of distinction caught the attention of the Arizona Christian acrobatics and tumbling program. Weber, who competes with USA Gymnastics, was a state champion in vault, and second in all-around and bars at regionals.

“The acro tumbling that she’s doing, I think they’re allowed to offer partial scholarships so it really opens up a lot more opportunities for gymnasts,” Garcia said. “Basically, if you’re not a really top Level 10 gymnast you’re not going to get a college scholarship for gymnastics just because the opportunities are so limited.”

Weber enjoyed the small campus size and academic structure at Arizona Christian when she visited.

“I just liked the overall campus,” Weber.

Weber was one of Garcia’s first pupils when she began at AIM 11 years ago. The process of building Weber into a college gymnast was arduous as AIM is without some of the resources most larger facilities use frequently.

AIM only as one pit on the top track to practice technique without a high impact. So, Weber had to ascend levels while not having the margin for error some other gymnasts might.

“Out of all the kids that she started with she’s the only one left,” Garcia said. “Gymnastics is really hard and it takes a lot of dedication. You have to give up a lot of time with your friends. You have to give up a lot of time with friends, you have to give up time with your family, you have to be really diligent about your school work ... it’s really hard on your body.”

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