Since she was two-and-a-half years old, Tatum Anderson has been in gymnastics but it wasn’t until she began to compete at the age of five that she fell-in-love with the sport.
When she first started gymnastics, Tatum was at Little Flips in Yukon doing it recreationally to give her a fun activity to do when her baby brother was born.
The Yukon resident joined Matrix Gymnastics when she was five and her coaches encouraged her to begin competing. She was reluctant at first but her mother, Shannon Anderson, gave her the final push she needed and she decided to try it out.
It was love at first site.
“I just told her that this was the next step,” Shannon said. “Once she was done with that first competition, she immediately asked me when the next one was. She loved it.”
Amanda Walker was Tatum’s coach at Matrix and she was also the owner of the gym. A year after Tatum started at Matrix, Walker sold the gym to Giovanna Romero and Manuel Narvaez. Romero and Narvaez became Tatum’s coaches and that’s when she began to take off.
Tatum, 12, competes in the U.S.A Gymnastics Junior Olympic division. There are 10 levels in the USAG Junior Olympic division. Tatum is currently at Level 8.
Last year when she was at Level 7, Tatum made it to the regional competition. She was the bar champion at the state competition and took second-place all-around. At the regional competition, Tatum took first-place in the bar and floor competitions and was second-place all-around in the entire competition.
In order to qualify for the regional completion, Tatum must place first, second, third or fourth in any individual event or the entire competition.
Because of her success at Level 7 last year, Tatum was selected with 36 other girls from Oklahoma to go to try out for the National Judges Cup. Tatum was one of six girls selected and was named to the top qualifier at the try out for the state of Oklahoma.
Tatum will get to represent Oklahoma at the National Judges Cup in Portland in the first weekend in January. She will compete in all four events: vault, bars, beam and floor. She said floor is her favorite event of the four.
“I like getting to do my own routine on the floor,” Tatum said. “I like all of the events but floor is my favorite for sure.”
Tatum and the rest of her Oklahoma teammates will compete against 16 other states at the Judges Cup.
Tatum is in the seventh-grade and she has gone to Yukon Public Schools her entire life but this year, she decided to switch to the homeschooling route to help manager her time. She will spend anywhere from four to six hours in the gym every day, so because she is homeschooled, she is still able to see her family in the evenings.
“With her spending as much time in the gym as she is, we just felt like it was best that we switch her to being homeschooled because if she was in school and having to spend four to six hours at the gym on top of that, she would never get to see her family,” Shannon said.
With her success she has had in the sport thus far, Tatum said it would be a great opportunity to be able to earn a scholarship and do what she loves at the collegiate level. She said her coaches believe she has a tremendous opportunity to earn a scholarship and do special things in her future in gymnastics.
Tatum said she would like to either coach or judge gymnastics when she is older and done competing.
“I would love to get to coach or judge gymnastics in the future,” Tatum said. “I think that would be a great opportunity.”