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West Side’s Own Olympic Gymnast in the Making

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Teaanou Gonzalez practicing at Dagget's Gold Medal Gymnasium

Teaanou Gonzalez practicing at Dagget's Gold Medal Gymnasium

Teaanou Gonzalez practicing at Dagget's Gold Medal Gymnasium

Emilia Caney, A&E Editor

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Teaanou Gonzalez, 17-year-old West Side senior, has been doing gymnastics since he was six years old. Ever since the first session he took at Daggett’s Gold Medal Gymnastics in Agawam, he’s been hooked. Although he admits there were rough patches throughout his gymnastics career thus far, he powered through the bad times and refused to give up on his passion. Thanks to his veracity and love of gymnastics, on May 14th, 2017, he was able to win the gold medal for floor and vault at the National Junior Olympics in Florida, and also placed fifth overall.

Teaanou, recognized as Tea, loves gymnastics. He lives and breathes it. Gymnastics has always been an innate part of him because he was doing it before he was enrolled. “When I was six, I was doing backflips and frontflips on my parents’ bed and couch and they didn’t want me to get hurt, so they signed me up for gymnastics.”

Eleven years later, he’s at the gym every day from three to eight at night practicing moves over and over. Since he’s there so long, juggling school and the sport is difficult, but he manages it in order to continue to do what he loves. Tea is undecided on what college he’s going to attend, but he knows he wants to go to school to be a physical athletic therapist in order to, “help those who have been injured because of the sports world.” He also hopes to continue gymnastics in college and potentially join the USA Gymnastics team to compete in the 2020 Olympics.

Darren Morace, Teaanou’s main coach, hopes to see Tea compete in the 2020 Olympics because he’s put so much time and hard work into him. Morace saw something in Tea before he was a Daggett coach, “Tea was very talented, even from a young age, that kid had something special,” Morace recalled. So, when he came to Daggett’s gym and had the opportunity to coach such an amazing and hardworking athlete, he was thrilled.

Many that know Teaanou is a very loud and energetic person, especially at the gym, but Morace said that when he first met Tea, he was very quiet and shy. He strongly believes that gymnastics and creating a “gym family” has contributed to Teaanou’s growth as a person. When Teaanou first began, he also wasn’t as confident as he is now. “I had to help him with [his confidence], and once he realized [what he could do], he won,” Morace said.

Teaanou was lucky enough to get into the 2017 Junior Olympics, and he also attended the 2016 Junior Olympics and placed in the top ten. In 2016, he placed third in floor and vault and eighth overall, which is still a tremendous accomplishment. In 2017, he was able to bring home the gold medal, and he, his coaches, and all who knew him were extremely proud. “He deserved it. He worked so hard for a long time and I’ve been putting a lot into him since I was young because I saw something in him,” said Morace.

Teaanou was excited when he won the gold medal because he had just come off an injury, having torn his meniscus and gotten surgery mere months before. Winning gold only a few months before having that severe of an injury, was unbelievable. He’s very thankful for his experiences and what he’s been able to do. He wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what he has without his family, coaches, and all his other supporters.

Although he won a gold medal and is a National Junior Olympic Champion for vaulting, his proudest moment was starting gymnastics because it was the beginning of it all.

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West Side’s Own Olympic Gymnast in the Making