Lila Gimbel, 15, can fly.
No, really, she flies so high that earlier this month at the U.S. Association of Independent Gymnastics Clubs (USAIGC) 2019 World championships in Nashville, she placed in the top five in every single event. Lila took home first place on beam, second place for her floor routine, fourth on the parallel bars, and fifth place on the vault.
For a 15-year-old gymnast, placing in the top five in every event is a big accomplishment. Lila competed side-by-side with gymnasts from Australia, Dubai, South Africa, Wales, and other countries across the globe. To prepare for such a high-stakes event, Lila ramped up her training schedule from nine hours to 20 hours per week.
Eleven years before becoming a world champion, Lila was faced with a choice. It was the end of the school year, and her family was leaving home in New York City to vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, as they did every year. As fun as a summer of beachgoing and carousel-riding sounded, Lila’s coach at NYC Elite Gymnastics in Tribeca wanted her to stick to her rigorous training schedule so she didn’t fall behind.
This situation is familiar to all athletes: caught between the option of taking time off to relax, or staying committed to your sport to reach new highs. Luckily, Lila found a compromise — Island Gymnastics Teaching School (IGTS).
Director and coach Beth Goodell started IGTS in 1990, and has coached hundreds of young gymnasts at the facility, located in West Tisbury. Today, the coach is as busy as ever, with her first clients of the day starting at 7:45 am.
Goodell started working with Lila when she was 4 years old, and has always admired her “tenacious” and “hard-working” mindset. The two have built a strong coach-athlete relationship over the years, and Goodell remarked that Lila has transformed: “I remember she was just quiet as a mouse. But when she got onto the beam or the floor, her eyes would light up; she just came alive.”
Lila attributes a lot of her success as a gymnast to her training at IGTS: “If it wasn’t for Island Gymnastics, I would either have to be away from my family training for the summer, or take the summer off and be very behind in the fall.”
Lila said that she loves the “small, welcoming community,” and that she feels so close to her friends at IGTS that “it really feels like a family.”
To prepare for the world championships, held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville from July 1 to 7, Lila worked with many coaches to perfect her routines. Instrumental to her training were rounds of “pressure sets,” in which her teammates watched Gimbel through her routine, and simulated the competition environment by “yelling and making weird noises.”
“I love being part of a team,” said Gimbel.