Cleared for Landing
Eve Doudican has competed and excelled on the international stage as a junior elite tumbler, and now that she’s old enough, is flipping at the chance to represent the U.S. at the world championships.
Eve Doudican, a 16-year-old who lives in Bixby, is not your typical teenager.
Yes, she likes to hang out with her friends and post on social media like Instagram and Twitter, but she does not go to a typical high school and she is already a world-class athlete who has just about reached the pinnacle of her sport on an international level.
Unfortunately for her, the T&T (Tumbling and Trampoline) subdivision of gymnastics that she excels at is not an Olympic sport, so her expertise gets a lot less attention than she might otherwise receive.
But make no mistake, Doudican is about as accomplished an athlete in tumbling as is possible, having won the U.S. national championship in the junior elite category in 2017 and multiple world age group championships already. Training at the Oklahoma Extreme gym in Bixby, she has competed and excelled on the international stage as a junior elite tumbler for years, and now that she’s old enough, will hopefully be heading to the senior elite level world championships next November in Tokyo, if she qualifies at the U.S. nationals in July.
“She just came back from the world age group competition in Russia, which is basically the world championships for the kids who are not 17 yet,” says Eve’s mother, Kendall. “She’s been to Bulgaria, Russia, Denmark, and once they hosted it in Florida. And she’s won the gold medal at those twice and won bronze and then fourth place in Russia.
“She’s a senior elite right now, on the senior elite national team for USA Gymnastics, actually the youngest U.S. senior elite female. It’s pretty crazy. It’s kind of a hidden sport.”
Eve has enjoyed the trips around the globe, not to mention the experience of making friends with competitors in other countries.
“It’s really cool,” Eve says. “It’s something that I would never have gotten to do without the sport. [My favorite was] probably Bulgaria, just because I won that one, so it made it a lot more fun. The best country was probably Denmark.”
There are some videos posted on YouTube where it is evident that Eve is outstanding at what she does. Somehow she doesn’t get dizzy when flipping over and over so many times down the mat without stopping.
“I think I’ve just always been able to handle it,” she says.
Each tumbling skill level has different requirements, and she has to include certain elements in her routine, such as having so many flips that don’t use hands or so many that use twists instead of flips. Each move has a certain degree of difficulty attached to it that earns her points in the competition based on how well they’re executed.
“My level has eight skills. I do like a double flip in the middle of my routine and more flips out of it and another double flip at the end,” Eve says. “We did two routines for my last competition, and the second one was pretty much the same thing but you have to do twists in the flips.”
Advancing to this point has taken a lot of hard work and a tremendous commitment, not only from Eve herself, but from her entire family, which actually relocated from Edmond about seven years ago to enable her to train at Oklahoma Extreme.
Eve was eight when she first arrived at the gym in Bixby and connected with coach Chauncy Haydon, who advised the family that Eve had a ton of talent and in order to fully realize it, she needed to train there with him.
For over a year, the family shuttled her back and forth three to four times a week from Edmond, staying over every Friday night to Saturday morning in a local hotel. Eventually, they moved to Bixby.
“It was a major level of commitment, and that’s what it takes to be on Eve’s level,” Haydon says. “The sacrifices are made. Everyone has to be on the same page, including the parents, the coaches, the administration, and then Eve herself. She has to realize all the sacrifices that surround that, and she makes up with it by going out and doing what she does, paying attention to the coaches and making corrections and just being at the forefront of tumbling right now.”
Eve participated in her first nationals in 2012, developing into an elite performer, basically fulfilling all the promise that Haydon envisioned during that first session.
“She took the challenge,” Haydon says. “The conversation was, ‘You’ve got the talent, you’ve got the goods, but how hard of a worker are you?’ And she earned every bit of that. She would fall, she would get up, she would fall again, she would get up, make a correction and she did it by trial and error. A lot of kids aren’t willing to fall and fail.”
As Eve reached high school and her academic obligations increasingly collided with her ambitions to train at Oklahoma Extreme, she began bugging her parents to find an alternative schooling solution.
She left Bixby High School and now, in what would be her sophomore year, participates in an online school program (Missouri High School) that utilizes local tutors here who she meets with multiple times a week to keep her on track and to provide individualized instruction.
“It’s actually pretty great,” says Kendall. “Because she was such an independent student anyway, she’s managed to get herself probably a semester ahead in high school than she would have at Bixby. She works at her own pace, so she just keeps plowing through all the requirements for high school. We didn’t know it existed, and she just kept hounding us and hounding us to find an online school. A little research and it was like, ‘Wow, that’s interesting.’”
The more flexible schedule has allowed Eve to train during the day, and while one might assume she’d miss the social aspects of high school, it hasn’t been that big a deal. Overall, she loves it.
“I know a couple of people who go to the same school as me, and I like it more because I can go to the gym all the time now,” Eve says. “I train every morning from 9 to 10 or 10:30, and like three days a week, I’ll go to school for a couple of hours and then I’ll go back and do three more hours of practice every night.”
Haydon has noticed a difference in Eve’s demeanor since the switchover.
“She’s less stressed,” Haydon says. “When we would have to travel, and we did a lot of traveling for special competitions and training camps and all that, she was stressed out about her schoolwork all the time. That’s one less thing she had to worry about. She’s able to do her schoolwork on her time now, and she’s not stressed about it.”
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