With fall in full swing, the athletes of Gulf Breeze are keeping busy, especially junior Zach Walden.
Walden has been doing gymnastics since he was around 7 years old, when his mom put him in classes at Gulf Coast Gymnastics.
Now, he competes in all six of the men’s events- floor exercise, vault, rings, pommel horse, parallel bars, and high bar, his personal favorite. In his nine years as a gymnast, he has qualified for the regional competition an impressive eight times.
With a rigorous academic schedule of Honors and AP classes, balancing his academics, social life, and training is sometimes difficult for Walden, but he makes it work with the support of his family and teammates.
For Walden, his summer days start with 8 a.m. training for six hours, and during the school year his training is just as rigorous: a full school day and 4 hours of training after school plus homework and competitions on weekends.
Hundreds of hours of training, a full year’s worth of work, all culminate into one run at competition, a costly price for one shot, but Walden just relies on his experience and preparation to see him through.
To many, there are just not enough hours in the day to for all of this, but Walden says he makes it work because of his passion for the sport. “I really just enjoy it,” said Walden.
“The best part about it is doing things you would never expect to do,” said Walden.
With the help of his relentless training and drive to do well, Walden hopes to attend Arizona State to continue his gymnastics career and specialize in rings, pommel horse, and high bar.