I remember the exact day she came into our gym. She was about 6 and her parents told us she was in some type of tops program. So I put her in a group with our stellar little ones. It didn’t take but a few minutes to figure out that this was not the case and the info we got was just lost between the language barrier between her parents and I. So put her in a pre team group and brought her up! she was always the kid who worked hard but things were never easy for her. Injuries were common and well ... gymnastics is just hard for most. She was always that kid who took extra turns on 3 events but hated that beam! It was not uncommon for her to go weeks on beam without throwing a series and it was not uncommon for me to have to mediate between her and the beam coach . The struggle was real with this one. Nevertheless she had a special bond with everyone around her including myself . She wasn’t the best but she was/is one of the best teammates on our team. As with many of the kids on team I gave her a nickname and she is affectionately known as YO. Fast forward several years to the summer after her level 8 season. Yo traveled back to her home land for an extended vacation and ended up breaking her tibia on vault while training at a local gym. I remember getting the call and hearing that surgery was in order. They had to pin the bone back together under the knee . Her patella tendon actually fractured her tibia off when she tried to stop on a vault approach. Our thoughts were , well that’s a strange place for a fracture and she is probably will retire. You see Yo was the kid who had to be in the gym , missing gym meant a sharp decline in her gymnastics ability . Unbelievably not only did she come back but ended up competing that year , which I didn’t even think was possible. This season she earned her right to go level 9 on three events . I am sure you can guess which event she wasn’t ready on. She struggled with her new vault , bar release and you guessed it , beam for most of the season. In fact it wasn’t until her fourth meet that she could compete beam. She just would not do her series ! Nope nada ain’t gonna happen. But her determination eventually became stronger than her fear and her numbers started to go up. Yo was doing okay , State went well and we were all super proud of her. Regionals was a different story , she had a few falls and ended up in 9th place . The errors were consistent with workout so it wasn’t alarming. Well she got lucky and region 2 had an extra spot for her at nationals! Typically in our region you fall your out the end. But Yo got a rare opportunity and qualified to regionals in 9th spot. I would love to say that the last 4 weeks went great but struggles were Dailey . I finally pulled the pirouette out after the Pak and taught her a switch kip on the 11th hour so she could make it through a bar routine . She inserted her last tenth of bonus on highbar as well because, we were not showing up to nationals with anything less. Today was Yo day to compete at westerns . That little girl who almost didn’t make level 9 , who wasn’t even supposed to be there , put together 4 solid events and took 1st place AA.... Congrats Marii Yonimoto (aka YO) We are beyond impressed.