AMHERST - She has been flipping, flying, tumbling and cart wheeling since she began recreational gymnastics in Amherst at the age of three, now Samantha Landry leaves competitive gymnastics behind and enters the world of competitive academics at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish.
How has gymnastics prepared the 18-year old for her new life away from home?
"More than anything else, I would say that gymnastics has given me confidence," said Landry, who will be taking a 4-year bachelor-of-science degree at University. "It takes quite a bit of strength to be a gymnast and it's a good feeling to know you can do things that others can't."
Anybody who has visited the Amherst Aerials Gymnastics Club has witnessed first hand the enthusiasm Landry brings to gymnastics.
"Her love of the sport has always been obvious," said Margaret Skabar, who has trained with Landry for several years and will continue training with the club in Landry's absence. "She's stuck it out through injuries and I think it's her high spiritedness and her love of the sport that pulled her through the tough times."
In 2006 Landry wasn't able to compete because she had a nasty fall. She was performing a maneuver on the bars when she fell and landed on her head and hyper-extended her back.
"I fell off the bars and landed on my head and by feet hit the back of my head. So my body formed a C and my back was hurt."
She took six months off before she got back into the swing of things.
"Bars were never my strong point, then after the fall I didn't want to work on the bars because it scared me," said Landry. "But after a while I got back into it."
Landry said it's taken a lot of patience to come back from injuries.
It is also patience that has helped make her a successful gymnast.
"It takes a lot of work to develop a particular skill," she said. "You have to practice one basic skill over and over again for months and months and months - and sometimes you still can't do it."
A strong streak of self-reliance also helped her along the way.
"Your successes and downfalls are on you and not other people," said Landry. "And because developing a gymnastics skill takes so much time and discipline, I think gymnasts tend to appreciate their accomplishment more than other athletes."
All the gymnasts will miss Landry's presence at the club.
"She's been my best friend at the club so I'll miss her a lot," said Skabar. "Her spirit and personality will always be missed."
Her mom, and coach, Michelle Landry said it will be a big change without Samantha at the club.
"She been a good leader so we are going to miss her," said Landry. "She was a big part of the team but also a big part of the club. She was a coach, a volunteer and judge, so it will be different without her around."
Highlights from Landry's gymnastics career are:
- In 2009 she was the provincial beam champion.
- In 2004 and 2007 she was the Atlantic beam champion.
- At the age of 11, in 2003, she was the provincial gymnastics champion.
Although Landry will no longer compete, she hopes to coach young athletes.
"I plan on being a judge this year and I hope to be a second semester coach at a recreation club in Antigonish," said Landry. "And I will be a choreographer here on the weekends."