Members of both the boys and girls teams at Gym Nevada traveled to San Jose, Calif., along with coaches and staff to watch Dalton and the rest of the gymnasts compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials. It was a moment that many will not soon forget.
“It was exciting,” boys coach Mike Adsit said. “Wow, it was really exciting. All that they have worked so hard for is right there. You kind of knew who was going to be in the first two or three spots, but we really didn’t know the final two spots until they announced who was making that team. It was really exciting.
“It sounds cheesy, but the atmosphere was electric. It really had a buzz to it,” Adsit continued. “I’m sure the kids were completely ecstatic. There’s a buzz here now too. We’re going to get together as a team as much as possible and watch it together.”
As Dalton earned a spot as one of the five Team USA members to represent the red, white and blue, the kids took in every moment.
“I’m always amazed at how much they know about the sport,” Gym Nevada front office manager Marie Bledsoe said. “They know a lot about what the guys are actually doing. It was a great experience for them and they just kept talking about it. They wanted to get all the guys’ autographs and just had a great time. It’s sort of like seeing your favorite rock star.”
Asked what it was like to see Dalton in action, the kids said the trials were exciting and full of high energy, and it was very encouraging.
“It was a lot of fun,” 16-year-old John Herrera said. “We got to see our teammate compete. It was nice to know someone in the trials. It was pretty cool. There’s better competition out there, a lot better.”
Now as the kids gear up to watch Dalton go for the gold starting in the team competition on Saturday, they also have their own golden dreams of someday making the Olympic squad as well, thanks to Dalton’s accomplishments.
“If he won gold, that would be awesome,” Joey Paris, 11, said. “It would be incredible. We’d know an Olympic gold medalist.”
Experiencing the Olympic trials in person was important to see what it takes to reach that point.
“One thing I think they learned is the hard work and commitment it takes,” Adsit said. “Jake’s not very strong on horse. He’s very strong on pretty much all five of the other events, but not so much on horse. The routine that he did on horse on the first day at trials was a spectacular routine. You could see that he’s just been working so hard on that. He had a plan of what he really needed to fix and you could tell that he’s really been working on it. That’s what stands out for me the most, to see the improvements that he made and to hit that routine.
“I think that’s the coolest thing, from my perspective. Jake is on this team because of hard work. Sure he’s talented, but he is where he is because he has worked so very hard and he’s completely determined. He’s come past a lot of things that could have gotten in his way and maybe sidetracked him but he’s held fast and worked really hard.”
Dalton and his teammates will be looking to grab the first men’s team gold medal since the 1984 games. Coincidentally, Adsit attended that year’s trials in Jacksonville, Fla., as a child. Perhaps he can prove to be a good luck charm for Dalton and the USA. Regardless, Dalton has already had a great journey that started here and has led him anywhere and everywhere.