Samantha Conway understands the value of focus, discipline and faith. A senior, Samantha is dedicated to her studies and acrobatic gymnastics. Her week day is packed with 40 hours of school and a 25-hour practice schedule. It is all part of her commitment to both.
Acrobatic gymnastics is a competitive gymnastic discipline. It requires two or three partners who work together and perform figures consisting of acrobatic moves, dance and tumbling, set to music. There are three types of routines; a ‘balance’ routine where the focus is on strength, poise and flexibility; a ‘dynamic’ routine which includes throws, somersaults and catches; and a ‘combined’ routine which includes elements from both balance and dynamic.
“Trust is very important in this sport. You and your partner have to have complete trust in each other,” shared Samantha who has spent her life in gymnastics.
She and partner 12-year-old Lally Seither train at Crescent City Gymnastics in New Orleans. They became partners after their previous partners decided to leave the team. Earlier this year, Samantha and Lally won the gold at the Acro National Championships in Providence, Rhode Island. At the time, Samantha was still recuperating from an ankle sprain and wore a boot between routines.
As members of the USA Gymnastics National Team they competed for Team USA internationally. Their first Team USA assignment was at the Rzeszoq International Acro Cup in Poland, early October. Samantha and Lally brought home the gold medal. They beat the defending world champions. They were gold medalists in the balance (strength), dynamic (flips and catches), and combined (combination of both).
Their signature move is called The Needle. Their coach, Gawain Dupree, believes the move has not been attempted by anyone else in the competition. In the move, Samantha does a vertical split. Lally climbs up more than five feet in the air, on her all the way to where Samantha’s left foot is perched. Then Samantha lifts her hands from the ground, balancing her body and Lally’s on only her right foot.
Now the top junior elite pair for the US, Samantha and Lally look forward to two or three more international competitions, including the national championships in June 2017.
The years of practice and dedication come down to the moment of competition. Before she and Lally take to the floor for an event, they and their coaches have a quiet moment of prayer. “We give all that we have to the glory of God,” said Samantha.