It’s a warm Wednesday afternoon, and six-year-old Rebekah Kauffman is sitting on a couch next to her mother, Misti, at the family’s house in north Valley City.
A bundle of energy, Rebekah isn’t one to keep still for a minute — frequently glancing around for one of her siblings, then laughing and showing off her bright smile.
But as she’s asked questions, goes quiet, opting for quick, one-word answers.
“You don’t have to be this quiet,” Misti tells her. “You’re never this quiet.”
Nor is she that shy.
In her first year of competition with the Jamestown Gymnastics Club, Rebekah, is used to performing in front of large crowds and has had plenty of success, no less.
As a member of the Jamestown Gymnastics Club, Kauffman took home plenty of hardware in the Level 4, 6-7 year old year division at the USAG state meet March 31 in Bismarck.
She took third place all around, and also took second place on the uneven bars and had a third place finish on the beam.
Rebekah got started in the sport at age three, shortly after her family moved to Valley City from Colorado Springs, Colo.
“She has amazing upper body strength and she would just sit and hold herself up on the window sill for like 30 to 40 minutes, an hour at a time,” Misti said. “I always thought she’d be good at it.”
She got her start in Valley City at age three, going one day a week, but soon it wasn’t enough. She now trains three times a week in Jamestown, plus, her family’s basement includes a lone bar and a smaller beam for her to practice on.
Six is the lowest age of competition for USAG, and at her stage in gymnastics, every athlete is judged on the same routine, putting an emphasis on how well executed the routine is.
“It’s easier when you’re older to tell (them) to point your toes and do this and you’re going to score higher,” Misti said. “At this age, they’re really just ‘I want to do my cartwheel.’”
Instead, Misti credited the older gymnasts her daughter has around her to helping her grow and putting up numbers that are somewhat competitive, even with older age groups.
But for now, the family isn’t focused largely on the competition or where Rebekah might go as a gymnast, instead opting for the simple ideal of letting her have fun.
“When she doesn’t like it any more, we’ll stop, but for right now she’s having fun and enjoying it,” Misti said.
Through her shyness, Rebekah makes a few points.
Yes, she has fun.
No, she wasn’t nervous.
But, most of all, Rebekah emphasized one thing.
“I like to compete.”