Ahava Atar: Flipping Into Gymnastics


By Alli Lipsit, Staff Writer

Sophomore Ahava Atar nervously waits along the gymnasium walls, paying close attention to her teammates performances, the way they gracefully leap across the mats and bounce through the floor with victory on their minds. She steps forward, taking a deep breath as her hands calmly fall to her sides, more than ready for her routine. She is next up, and as she makes eye contact with the judge, she feels determination rush through her veins. Atar starts her routine with simple hand motions and a wolf jump, but it isn’t long before she can be seen running for her first tumble pass. Her most important trick though; her round off back handspring layout. Atar has yet again managed to stun not only the judges, but the crowd above that can be heard cheering from miles.

Atar’s interest in gymnastics first began at the age of eight years old as a way to control her constant energetic behaviors. From the very first cartwheel, Atar couldn’t get enough of it, and she knew that gymnastics would end up being her remedy through life.

“I used to go outside into my front lawn and do cartwheels and back walkovers everywhere for hours,” Atar said. “My family and I once decided to go to the Botanical Gardens on a nice day, but even out of the house I couldn’t stop flipping around. While I was doing a cartwheel, I ended up accidentally throwing my shoe into the water.”  

Luckily, it wasn’t long before Atar was getting professional coaching at the Morton Grove Park District, which meant no more shoes being flung into the water for her.

What really enhanced Atar’s gymnastic abilities throughout her career is her willingness to try new things.

“I loved to go outside and just get moving, but I especially loved to try new tricks, even when I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to do them on the first couple tries. I’ve always just wanted to learn more when it comes to gymnastics.”

Learning more about gymnastics is exactly what she’s doing. Even as an experienced high school athlete, Atar knows she has more to learn, and works hard to to do so.

Atar’s tenacious attitude, excellent work ethic, and determination towards gymnastics has contributed greatly to her success in the sport, and it certainly hasn’t gone unseen by those around her.

“She’s always very focused on improving herself and it’s really easy to see that,” junior Sonya Koffman said, who has been on the Niles West team with Ahava for the past two years. “She’s always so supportive too, and she’s always cheering her team on.”

Koffman isn’t the only gymnast that has recognized Atar’s great attitude.

“She works on her skills until she has it, she’s definitely not one to quit after not being able to do something once. She’s really driven too, always reaching out to us seeing how she can work to get to her goals.” Atar’s coach of two years Tiffany Tuttle said.

Being able to get to the level where she is now wasn’t exactly a piece of cake for Atar, especially when it comes to competing competitively in high school. Atar must balance a social life, good grades, and gymnastics all at once, but thanks to a special secret she always keeps in mind, it’s usually not a problem for her.

“Personally, the most important thing to being able to balance all these stressful aspects of life is support,” Atar said. “The people around me are constantly providing support for me. My close friends and family are alway there to give me pep talks, whether it’s before a meet or a big test, I know I can rely on them to help me get through whatever obstacles are in front of me.”  

It’s a good thing Atar has her friends and family to lean on, because it hasn’t always been easy keeping up with  gymnastics.

Along with being known for her love for gymnastics, Atar is also known for how she spends her summers. For as long as she can remember, Atar has attended Jewish sleep away camp for the summer, which is something that she has always looked forward to throughout the year. However,  because Atar isn’t home over the summer, she often misses out on many training opportunities that her teammates participate in, which sometimes tends to put her at a disadvantage.

This has never affected Atar’s motivation to work on her gymnastic skills. Even when she’s away from home she continues to work on enhancing her gymnastics skills.

“Gymnastics is something that I can carry with me wherever I go, so even when I am away for the summer I’m still practicing, but it’s not an obligation for me, I don’t feel like I have to do it. I do it because I love it.”

Atar is hoping to master her full twist for next season.