Memories from Bridgette's coach, Bill Strom


Bridgette phoned me in the fall of 2000 and informed me that she had been doing gymnastics with her friends at school, like Gymtowne team member Fion Ng, and that she could keep up with them.  She said she would like a spot on our team here at Gymtowne Gymnastics.  I was amazed by her spunk! Bridgette had taken some classes years prior as a beginner but for some reason had not been back until this time.  I told her that we do not normally put girls without extensive formal training right onto team but that we would look at her and see.  When she tried out, she showed ability but was lacking the polish of formal training but we decided that she showed potential and put her on the Level 4 competitive team in January of 2001. 

Bridgette immediately mastered those routines and had a fantastic first year where she moved up to Level 5 for the 2002 season.  She had now shown us she was for real and not just talk.  In Level 5, Bridgette qualified to the Zone Championships and the State Championships her first year.  She captured the title of Zone Champion on uneven bars with a score of 9.0 and placed sixth all around with a score of 34.125.   She also placed ninth on bars at the State Championships with a score of 8.825.  She also finished sixteenth with a score of 34.325, a very respectable score for a first year Level 5 gymnast.  Her form and flexibility were improving and her drive and great attitude in the gym was becoming very apparent.

In 2003, Bridgette moved on to Level 6 where she again continued to improve at an alarming rate.  She had caught up to most of her friends and began to show promise for higher levels.  She began to train for Level 7 during her Level 6 season, which combined with a growth spurt might have hindered her a little from her Level 6 routines.  She still scored many nines and again made it to the State Championships.  She was well on her way to being ready for the Level 7 season coming up in January of 2004.  I honestly believe that she would have scored higher as a Level 7 than she did as a Level 6.  She was more suited to being an Optional Level gymnast (Levels 7-10).  It is a tragedy that she never got that opportunity.

The story of Bridgette's progress is only a small portion what we saw of her here at Gymtowne.  She was a model athlete who rarely missed practice and if she did, she always had a good reason.  She made each of her teammates feel like they were her best friend in the entire world and always made time for them.  She treated everyone with respect and I cannot recall her ever speaking badly about anyone.  When asked about others she would always focus on what was good and not speak poorly of anyone.  Bridgette had an amazing sense of humor and was always fun to be around whether you where an adult coach or one of the gymnasts.  

We at Gymtowne consider that it is the responsibility of each coach and gymnast to work toward raising the spirits of those around them at all times, at least while they are at gym.  Bridgette never faltered from this ideal.  She never pouted or whined and even when she was being reprimanded for doing something incorrectly, she would look the coach straight in the eye and clearly inform the coach that a correction would happen immediately--and she actually managed to do that in a playful, humorous, but sincere way.  It was like an art form.

Her teammates are also all high achievers and the most wonderful students I have had in years but Bridgette was the definite standout of the group.  Though she was not the #1 ranked gymnast in the group by skill ability she was the most inspirational of the group.  She inspired her teammates by example not only to be better gymnasts but to be better people.  I will always admire her for the way she could make others feel so important and how she made it a point to never put anyone down. 

We are all going to miss Bridgette Clement.  Her contributions to our lives that we took for granted are now ever so apparent.  Bridgette, we will never forget you.

Bill Strom
Head Coach and Owner
Gymtowne Gymnastics