The Turning Truth of Tumbling: How Two High Schoolers Defy Gravity

By J1 Reporter Tyler Raikar

A tumblist will never forget that first, frightful feeling of hitting their first trick. For junior Grace Diers, her first trick came as a required skill needed for when she used to do competitive studio dance at Nebraska Dance Company. She was only a girl at this time, and tumbling was not a passion she had yet found. Like many passions, however, tumbling seemed to grasp her by the foot and lead her toward the ambitious direction of defying gravity. 

Around the age of 9, Diers will never forget her first memorable trick she achieved in an effort of becoming a better dancer. With the step of her right foot, a grand back kick of the opposite, she enforces so much power her head floats above the marble terrain in her dance studio. The legs strike 180 degrees until her left foot reaches base again, recovering her body from literally standing upside-down. That ariel was her first official trick, and it was adrenalizing. 

Illustration of junior Grace Diers doing a needle by Tyler Raikar.

Dance could no longer suppress Dier’s cravings to tumble more and more, and at the later age of 12, she joined Elite Cheer. The girls there had years of training and tumbling experience, but that didn’t stop Diers from eventually catching up effortlessly and performing the highest level of tumbling. Her stepping stones of reaching the pinnacle consisted of skills any naive person would see as mind-boggling: a back handspring, back tuck, layout, and one called a double (or two flips in one!). The harder a trick got, Diers remembers, the more training she would need to get it. Physical preparations meant conditioning every day for hours, cardio right after, building up that muscle, eating the right diet. Mentally preparing for these tricks, some may argue, are the true battle of what these athletes endure. Without that confident, who-cares-if-I-get-hurt mindset, in no way would she advance to battle against gravity and become the tumbler she is today.    

Not every tumbler hits a flip at first to inspire their passion for tumbling. For junior Colette Vincentini, baby steps were what made her into the golden athlete she is today. She was attending Premier Gymnastics as a little girl one day, put into the sport recreationally by her parents. At 8-years-old, Vincentini had just accomplished her first cartwheel. One could say she cartwheeled her years into becoming a tumbler, and trick after trick, she hit them: “backbends, back walkovers, handsprings, and all that jazz.” 

As Vincentini got older, her true aha moment was hitting her back handspring. Only then could she discover how amazing it felt to get better and stronger. Vincentini continued to advance more and more as her flame for flipping grew just as much. Today, her goal is to hit a trick called a back full. This flip requires plenty of technique, diligence, and the right person to overcome that mind block. The body flips with the spine extended while twisting 360 degrees midair. As challenging as she says it to be, she’s almost gotten it down to pure perfection. 

Diers and Vincentini have experienced a feeling very few people will get to have. Not everyone can wrap their head around the mechanics of flipping midair and making it look easy, nor wrap their head in their chest while spinning without the urge to throw up their fears. These two ladies inspire other athletes on the importance of sculpting that confident mindset to lead one to success. They have proven once you overcome those mind blocks, anything is beatable. There’s a reason tumbling is so awed upon; not everyone can say they defied gravity like these two do every day. 

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