Gymnast reunites with former teammates at Show-Me State Games

Saturday, July 28, 2012 | 7:34 p.m. CDT; updated 8:36 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 30, 2012
Even though Kari Stromhaug moved to New York last August, she returned to Columbia to compete in the Show-Me State Games with her friends and teammates. This is Stromhaug's third time competing in the games and her ninth year practicing gymnastics.

*Jordan Banker is a 13-year-old gymnast. Her last name was spelled incorrectly in an earlier version of this article.

COLUMBIA — When Jordan Banker* was attempting to learn a new floor routine, the staff and team members at Show-Me Gymnastics could not help her.

Although gymnasts in the Columbia-based program have performed this particular routine for years, nobody could remember the exercise in its entirety.

However, with the aid of wireless Internet and an iPad, Jordan, 13, was able to track down the perfect coach, Kari Stromhaug — the last Show-Me gymnast to master the routine. Although Stromhaug move to Vestal, N.Y., last August, she has remained close to her former teammates and enjoyed helping a friend in need.

While Stromhaug, 15, performed the routine in the family room of her New York home, Banker watched on an iPad from the Columbia gym. Then, she propped the iPad up so Stromhaug could critique her.

Months after coaching Jordan, Stromhaug has seized a rare opportunity to compete with her former teammates. She traveled more than 1,000 miles to compete with them in the 2012 Show-Me State Games team gymnastics competition at Hearnes Center.

Stromhaug has been involved with gymnastics for more than eight years. Although she is taking a brief break from competition while adjusting to her new home, Stromhaug takes tumbling classes to stay involved with the sport.

At the Show-Me gym, Stromhaug is known for her ability to attack personal challenges within the sport.

About six years ago, Stromhaug was diagnosed with Sever's Disease, an ailment to growth plates in athletes' heels that causes extreme pain. Although she was forced to focus on conditioning and could not participate in the majority of practice, Stromhaug continued to support her teammates.

Her teammates and Kathy Sanford, Stromhaug's former coach, appreciated her efforts to stay involved.

"She just kept showing up and was always there from the beginning to the end of practice," Sandford said.

Although she continued to compete in meets, not participating in practice took a toll on Stromhaug. Her teammates played a critical role in her return to the sport, supporting her and making an effort to keep her involved.

Sanford said this is just one example of how teammates form close bonds.

"They grew to be like sisters," she said.

Although Stromhaug calls her friends monthly and texts them daily, she was excited to compete with her friends again. 

"It's just so exciting to be back here with my old teammates," Stromhaug said. "It should be just like old times."

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