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Golden State Gymnastics turns in a banner year

Burbank facility has cultivated 10 state youth champions, one regional title winner this year.

December 20, 2013|By Jeff Tully, jeff.tully@latimes.com
(Raul Roa Staff Photographer )

BURBANK— Hanging from the rafters in the Golden State Gymnastics gym are a number of banners. The banners bear the names, events and scores of athletes who have captured state championships or better for the facility's competitive team.

The banners serve as motivation to the current Golden State Gymnastics athletes, many of whom see it as an ultimate goal to have their name lofted high among the most successful gymnasts who have been produced from the gym.

"It seems like getting that banner with their name on it is the most important thing in the world to them," said Nicole Langevin, the program's head coach. "When they win a state title, you want to hear them say they are proud that all of their hard work has paid off or that they're pound of their accomplishment, but no. All they want to know is 'When is my banner coming?' It is that important to them."

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One of the gym's athletes who knows what it feels like to have her name on a banner hanging for all to see is 11-year-old Samantha Nelson. Nelson captured a title last season in the Level 5 uneven bars.

"It feels good to see my name up there, even though it's kind of covered by a light," Nelson said. "But I was proud because a lot of people have won it for floor [exercise] and [balance] beam, and to win for bars is special to me. It's cool to have it up there."

Langevin has been coaching at Golden State Gymnastics since 2002, when she started with 98 athletes. Since then, the program has grown exponentially and now boasts 700 gymnasts, including a competitive boys' team.

The coach still remembers the first state championship banner under her tutelage, that coming in 2006 when Lily Pollack won a title in floor exercise.

"That was special because that was our first state championship," said Langevin, who said she relies heavily on coaches Denise Pearlman, Colden Raisher and Toya Ballinger to help the programs run smoothly. "That banner hung by itself and we were just waiting to add more. Then the next year we had two champions and we had said we can't not commemorate them, so since then it has been our thing to honor anyone with a state championship or above with a banner."

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