Tarah started gymnastics at the age of five. Her folks thought early on that this might be a sport with opportunity for her. She could do full splits at just a year old, and seemed responsive to direction and coordination. Not really knowing anything about Gymnastics themselves, her mom (a psychologist and concert pianist), and dad (an engineer), placed her in a nearby gymnastics facility, which they later learned was one of the top clubs in the country. With the encouragement of both her acrobatics teacher at the dance studio and also her gymnastics coaches, Tarah stayed in the sport more than 15 years. She both loved it and had a natural ability for it. In her last year of competition (the height of her career), Tarah was ranked 18th in the country at the USA National Championships and held the Bronze medal on the Balence beam, her best event.
But the road to the top was not easy. As with life, something worth having usually comes with a struggle. She switched gyms several times to find an ideal environment for her training. Also, she needed to find coaches who had what it took (in both time and energy) to help her obtain her ultimate goal--The National Gymnastics Team. It was something she knew she wanted to be a part of since she was 7. Tarah stayed in Arizona, (not wanting to move away from her friends and family), through both her Junior High and High School years. She was too young at 13 years old to be away from home and by herself anyway. However, locating an Elite Training Facility in the area where she currently lived, was a BIG challenge. There just aren't that many gyms that train high level athletes. Throughout her compulsory level years (levels 5, 6, & 7), and even into the first part of her optional gymnastics career (levels 8 and 9), she trained mainly with Roe Kreutzer at her established gym. In 1994 though, with the head coaches of her longtime gym breaking away and opening their own facility, Tarah decided to go with them and train at this new center. It was here that she became a National Elite at the age of 14, and proceeded (her first year as an Elite Gymnast) not only to make the Nationals, but also to capture the Silver Medal on Floor exercise, and place 6th overall--(the National Training Team). Within the next year, her USAG scores at various qualifying meets moved her into the next prestigious level, Senior International Elite--The highest level of Gymnastics possible. Her first year as an International Elite, she competed at the U.S. Classics in San Antonio (the only gymnast from her club to qualify). She finished 23rd. -- Not bad...but not good enough to move onto the Championships of the USA where the National Team is picked; And certainly not as good as Tarah knew she could do with just a bit more training.
So, when she graduated high school (at 15), (and feeling the gym she trained at currently had taken her as far as it could), she relocated to Oklahoma, to pursue the next phase of her gymnastics career. She began training at a prestigious facility there, under the tutelage of a nationally renowned coach. Instantly, she began to see massive improvements in her scores. Her all-time high score was achieved while at this gym during the nationally attended "Dynamo Classic"--a 9.800 on the floor exercise. But along with this gym's reputation and years of training champions, came the emotionally draining and self-destructive criticism. Tarah developed acute shin-splints (a girl who, to date, had never had an injury that she couldn't work through). It was a mix of the grueling/relentless training hours (almost 40 per week), and being asked to perform calisthenics on a much-less-than-adequate floor in a run down secondary facility where "morning workouts" were held. A year and a half later, Tarah felt completely burned out. It was not that she didn't like the sports anymore... just...not under these conditions.
To the credit of this gym, most of her regional and national gymnastics titles were achieved here-- (1999 USAIGC National Vault Champion & 1999 USAIGC Reserve National Floor Champion, to name two).
Tarah didn't want to uproot life from her new home, College, and the quaint surroundings she had grown to love. So at the beginning of 2000, Tarah decided to switch to a new gym also in the Oklahoma City area and also well renowned. The facility was 40 miles away, but with carpooling, it was do-able. This gym was much less aggressive, both a plus and a minus for Tarah. They did not insist on grueling exercise programs that left no time for body recuperation, but critical technicalities like form, routine execution, and repetition seemed to slip through the cracks. Tarah peaked early here. After her injuries healed, but before she had lost the "edge" and strength from her former gym. She qualified to both the U.S. Classics and the American Classics, each time placing just below the cut off score to qualify to Nationals. Tarah knew this would not do if she were to accomplish her goal—a spot in the National Top 20.
Late in the summer of 2000, Tarah relocated to Gaithersburg, MD to train with the "Best of the Best"--Olympic Head Coach, Kelly Hill, (Hill's Gymnastics Academy). Kelly was a benevolent trainer--able to reinforce correct moves, yet enact the fist of fury (figura-tively speaking) when needed. However, just as Tarah was arriving in Maryland, Kelly was deciding to take a break from coaching due to her just-completed massive Olympic duties. After a few months, Tarah became disheartened that her coach was not actually in the gym anymore and her training was being supervised by coaches with much less experience. At Christmas, Tarah left Maryland to return to her home in Arizona, ready to quit gymnastics. Her training had suffered so many ups and downs that she was convinced a suitable situation that allowed her to proceed with her goal would always be a step away.
However, by this time, native Arizonian and Olympic coach, Jack Carter, (formerly head coach at Parkettes in Pennsylvania) & his wife, Erin, had just opened their own gym in AZ only 1/2 mile from Tarah's home. Fate, coincidence, whatever...Tarah was willing to try once again. This time it clicked! After just a few months of intensive training with a coach who knew how to mold and motivate, she was able to compete in the U.S. Classic and advance on to the National Championships of the U.S.A.! Here, she won the Bronze Medal on the Balance Beam and was inducted into the prestigious Top 20 (The National Team)! She ranked 18th in the Entire Country at the height of her gymnastics career--A fitting achievement, for such a long & often quite bumpy journey.
Knowing that gymnastics is only a single (though long and intense) chapter of her life, Tarah retired from the sport in December 2001 to return to Oklahoma for her last semester of college. She graduated Summa Cum Laude at age 19, and then began the next chapter of her life—a career in the performing arts. She has known for most her life that this is what she ultimately wants to do and now would bring all of her considerable gymnastics and dance skills to the table to help her achieve successes here as well.
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