Teenage gymnast somersaults through global pandemic

Elli Brownfield performs on the balance beam.
Colorado teen and competitive gymnast Elli Brownfield during a balance beam routine.

By Jenny Ly
Medill Reports

Ponderosa High School freshman and competitive gymnast Elli Brownfield knows what it is like to be trained in discipline and work hard in athletics. On top of the years of dedication to gymnastics, she is quickly learning another skill: how to adapt to life in sports during a global pandemic.

Like all young teenagers around the country training or traveling for a competitive sport, 15-year-old Brownfield was wrapping up a season that was set to compete in nationals.

“It’s hard not seeing your teammates everyday and your school friends. You go on this routine going to school and the gym and both of them have just stopped,” Brownfield said.

Since the first case of coronavirus appeared in the U.S., executive orders started sweeping across the country, shutting down non-essential businesses and locations like Brownfield’s gymnasium for safety measures forcing Brownfield to end her everyday routine of going to the gym to train.

“It’s not like basketball, softball or baseball where you can pick up games or leagues the rest of your life,” said Tom Brownfield, Elli’s father.

“Everyday they miss is one day they’ll never get back.”

Photo at top: Elli Brownfield strikes a pose on the balance beam. (Courtesy of Kim Brownfield)