ELKO — It all started with a pair of his sister’s tap shoes and now 10-year-old Judah Young is preparing to enter a national competition in the USA Gymnastics 2019 Stars and Stripes Championships this week in Florida as a Junior Olympian.
When Young was 4 years old, his sister started a tap dance class and he was mesmerized by her tap shoes.
“He put his sister’s tap shoes on and told his Mom, ‘I gotta do this.’ That’s what started the whole thing,” said Chad Young, his dad.
“I am just freaking out saying ‘what are those?’” recalled Judah. “And so I decided to try it and I loved it, so I did tap for a few years. I decided to do a few other things like jazz, hip hop and I loved those, so I decided to do team and I’ve been doing all of those and then I did tumbling.”
Over the last several years, Young has been part of the competition dance and tumbling teams at TDC Athletics. He has excelled at gymnastics over the last two years and this year is the Region 1 and 2 champion in double mini and trampoline, and third in floor. This is a multi-state region across the western U.S. He is also the State of Nevada champion in double mini and trampoline, and second in tumbling.
Now his focus is on Florida and he is training four hours a day, four days a week, to compete in trampoline and double mini. He will compete at levels lower than his capability because he has to pass certain scores in hopes of moving up to compete at the more elite level, a level 8, next season.
His coach, ClairAnne Bailey, explains, “Next year he will probably be at more elite levels which means he will get to create more of his own passes and then they go to the elite nationals,” said Bailey.
Young has been on the senior competition team for one year and progressed quite a few levels throughout the season.
“We’re hoping to hit a preseason competition this year before the start of next season so he can hit mobility and hopefully be a level 8 athlete at the start of the 2019 season,” said Timbre Young, his mom.
She notes that Judah has a unique focus and has set specific goals.
“He’s just laser focused. His goal is to make 8 and then make the elite team, and then he wants to be recruited by Cirque du Soleil, and maybe the Olympics,” said Young.
Young recently saw his first live Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas.
“Ever since I can remember I’ve wanted to be in Cirque du Soleil and my mom just took me to a Cirque du Soleil about three weeks ago,” he said. “I just decided I wanted to stick with that.”
His mom feels that his background in dance plays an important role in his success in gymnastics.
“Something specific about Judah is that his dance background assists him in his tumbling, and the tumbling assists him in his dance, which both of those together pushes him towards his goal of Cirque du Soleil,” she said. “I mean, he’s in the right place and doing the right things to reach that goal. It’s really neat that he’s focused on that right now at 10.”
She mentioned that he has endured a bit of teasing because he’s a dancer.
“Some boys may be too afraid to try because there is a lot of those gender stereotypes associated with it, so maybe some of the boys out there in Elko who want to do something like this will see that there’s one doing it and come hang out with you,” said Young to her son during our interview.
Judah said he likes dance because everyone is “so kind” and he gets pushed to do harder stuff, while tumbling makes him physically stronger, but he feels that his biggest strength is on the trampoline.
“I really think trampoline and double mini; out of those two trampoline,” said Young. ”You can reach new limits and learn new skills before you can do them on any other stuff and it’s a lot easier and really fun.”
Young will be in fifth grade at Flag View Intermediate School this fall and like many busy 10-year-olds has other interests.
“I like playing soccer and kickball and I love going down to an orphanage in Mexico and helping out the kids,” he said. “We do work projects like build buildings, install roofs, and we just have a good time with the kids.”
While in Florida this week for the Stars and Stripes Championships, Young hopes to podium on both trampoline and double mini.
His mom hopes whatever the outcome is he can appreciate all his hard work.
“I just hope he’s proud of himself. He works really, really hard, whether he takes the podium or not, he really deserves to be proud of himself,” she said.
His mom is also thankful to the community for all the support he has received.
“Our family would like to send a huge thank you to the community and businesses who continue to support Judah both through encouragement and his fundraising efforts,” said Young.