Douglas Rosman and Douglass Johnson are athletes in a sport that has existed for more than 2,000 years ‘ gymnastics.
Instead of attending soccer or football practice, they train at Broadway Gymnastic School in Del Rey five days a week, three hours a day, perfecting their routines for the six different events they compete in ‘ floor, rings, high bar, parallel bars, vault and the pommel horse.
And as a result of their hard work and good scores at state and regional championships, Johnson, for the fourth time, and Rosman, for the second, have once again qualified for the Men’s Junior Olympic National Championships.
Since Wednesday, May 9th, they have been in Oklahoma City to compete at the 2007 Men’s Junior Olympic National Championships, which features the best Level 9 and 10 gymnasts from across the nation in two age groups, 14 to 15 years old and 16 to 18 years old.
Competition starts Thursday, May 10th for Johnson and Rosman, and the championships will continue until Sunday, May 13th.
‘They have gymnastics in their heart and soul,’ said Broadway Gymnastics owner Mike Kates of Johnson and Rosman. ‘Athletically, they’ve just achieved immense skill. They’re special.’
Both are Level 10 gymnasts, which ‘is really on a par with the Olympic level of gymnastics,’ says Maureen Miller, boys and girls teams coordinator for Broadway Gymnastics.
They train under head coach Henry Vanetsyan, who was formerly on the National Armenian Gymnastics Team and also used to be a Russian Olympic gymnastics coach.
Vanetsyan, who lives in Mar Vista, has been coaching since 1960 ‘ 17 of those years at Broadway Gymnastics.
Of Rosman and Johnson, he says, ‘My job is to help them, support them. We have the same goal ‘ to achieve. I’m always proud of them. I’ll be proud of them if they do their routines the best way they can (at Nationals).’
It wasn’t easy for Johnson or Rosman to get to this level of competition.
‘They had to go through a year-long process for qualifying for this,’ Kates said. ‘It’s very stringent competition.’
Both boys will compete in six events ‘ floor, rings, high bar, parallel bars, vault and the pommel horse.
Johnson’s favorite events are rings and floor; Rosman’s are floor and high bar.
Johnson likes doing the double back layout (double-back somersault in a straight body position) off rings and high bar; Rosman prefers the double-back somersault on the floor or off the parallel bars.
Rosman, 15, is a sophomore at Santa Monica High School and has been training at Broadway Gymnastics since he was just two years old.
‘He’s been with us the entire time since he was a little boy,’ Miller said. ‘We’ve watched him grow from being a tiny tot up to a young adult. We’ve really watched him grow in skills and maturity. He’s a very talented young man.’
Johnson, 17, and a junior at Loyola High School, has been practicing gymnastics since age four.
‘When I was younger, I used to do flips off the bed, so my parents just put me in gymnastics,’ Johnson said. ‘I loved it, so I stuck with it.’
And last month, he placed sixth on rings at Regionals.
Johnson’s freshman year of high school, he was out of the gym for a year in a full-body brace as a result of a stress fracture in his back, yet he was able to quickly pick up from where he was, Miller said.
‘His basic skills that he learned as a little boy under (his coach) Henry were so good that, when he came back, he was able to quickly pick up from where he was,’ Miller said. ‘That says a lot about him that he was able to come back and do as well as he’s doing. Most people can’t do that. He’s extremely strong and not only strong, but persistent.’
Johnson says, ‘My whole freshman year ‘ no gymnastics. It was stressful. It was hard. The full year of no exercise whatsoever just made me want to dominate. I worked hard and pulled through and I got back on track.’
And last year at nationals, he sprained his ankle and couldn’t complete the competition.
‘This time, I’m 100 percent, so I’m hoping to do well,’ he said. ‘I’m excited and a little nervous.’
Both Johnson and Rosman would like to compete in gymnastics in college and say the sport gives them ‘an adrenaline rush.’
Rosman also likes gymnastics because it’s different.
‘All my friends play soccer,’ Rosman said. ‘At my school that has 3,500 kids, only one other guy does gymnastics. I just love doing it. And you get to show off every once in a while too.’
To advance to the Junior Olympic National Championships, Johnson and Rosman competed in state and regional championships and qualified based on their scores.
‘Just making it to the Junior Olympic Nationals is the biggest honor you can imagine,’ Miller said. ‘Just getting there is an amazing feat and we’re just always proud if they can do what they can do as well as they can do it. Everyone is proud of them.’
‘Whatever the outcome is, we’ll be proud of that,’ he said.