The Winning Perspective

We don’t compare apples and oranges, so why are we so adamant about comparing ourselves to others? Keeping a healthy mindset in regards to sports competitions is crucial to our children’s happiness, so here are some reminders for us all.

The Definition of a Win

What does it really mean to win? Does it mean taking home the shiny gold medal on every single event? Is beating your past records? Is making it to the competition on time, dressed without any wardrobe malfunctions? They all are wins. Each one of them is a moment to be celebrated.

The Small Victories

“Those who celebrate the small victories, win the game over and over again.” Every time an athlete does a skill bigger or better it should be celebrated. And if they do a new skill for the very first time, well get out the confetti and ring that victory bell. Athletes don’t necessarily need to go to a meet and take home four gold medals to have an incredible sense of accomplishment. Every time they accomplish something new or perfect a skill that they have been working on it’s a win.

Know Your Competition

Understanding that every single athlete at a competition trains differently is vital to understanding why the only real competition is yourself. Some athletes train three hours a week, with minimal equipment and have only been doing their sport for a few months. Others are home schooled, train 20+ hours a week and have state of the art equipment. Both models can make sense depending on your athlete’s goals, but you can see how this would be an unfair comparison.

Reclaiming the Power

Before a competition, most athletes develop a sense of excitement, nervousness, or both. By acknowledging that you are your only real competition, athletes are able to not only take some of the pressure off of a competition but also focus on exactly what they need to do to give their best performance.

The Value of Perspective

After a meet, medals are stored in a closet or maybe on display for a few years, but ultimately they gather dust. However, the feeling the athletes get when they receive something when their efforts and talents are recognized is why they desire those medals or awards so immensely. What we often forget is that our words and actions as parents and coaches can be more powerful than a medal ever will be.

Bottom Line

We can change the narrative. We can decide who wins the competition. Maybe we do not have control over how many deductions the judge tallies up or how a sports official calls the plays, and maybe we don’t have control over who our competitors are, but what we do have control over is how we view our victories. Here at Balance 180, we believe in celebrating every single victory our athletes have and cherishing the friendships and memories that we all create together. And that readers, that is how you win the game.

Written by Julie Walter.

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Love Through the Eyes of Our Children

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and love is the air! We asked our athletes what they love most and their answers are both inspiring and hilarious. Some of our younger athletes really love food and animals, we don’t blame them though, so do we. Our older athletes highlight their love for their parents, family and all of the friends they have met at gymnastics! Here at Balance 180, we love all of our athletes, parents, coaches, volunteers, and members of our team. Ask your child about who or what they love and their answers just might surprise or delight you!

Written by Julie Walter 

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A Gymnast’s Ode to the Events

Sports unquestionably teach us life skills. As all of our coaches who were formerly (or are currently!) gymnasts can attest to, gymnastics teaches us determination and discipline, which we clearly saw with Coach Ashlyn Johnson’s testimony. Not only do coaches have an impact on us, but each gymnastics event (we are talking vault, bars, beam, and floor) has some wisdom to impart on all of us as well. As a tribute to the apparatus who have taught us a little bit about ourselves and life, presenting “A Gymnast’s Ode to the Events”…

Written by Julie Walter 

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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Dance Marathon with Jake Dube

This weekend Balance 180 had the honor of hosting a family fun day for Dance Marathon at UF. The event featured food, laughter, gymnastics and overall just a great time. Now, this event got us thinking, who are the kind and thoughtful college students behind Dance Marathon? We went on a mission to learn more about Dance Marathon and as it turns out, we knew very little and what we thought we knew, in fact, turned out to be myths. So, to establish fact from fiction, we interviewed Family Relations Overall Director, Jake Dube, and wow were we impressed. Let’s put your knowledge to the test. Readers, fact or fiction? 

1. Dance Marathon is just one event a year.

FICTION! Dance Marathon is a community and a movement uniting students all across the nation as they work together to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Families and members are paired together as they attend family fun nights, fundraising activities and work to better the lives of our local children.

2. Only a portion of the money raised goes to UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. 

FICTION! 100% of the money Dance Marathon raises goes to UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. 48% goes to research, 10% goes to education and 42% goes to patient care. 

3. Dance Marathon is only made up of Greek Organizations.

FICTION again! In fact, most of the organizations do not have any Greek affiliations.

4. Dance Marathon has raised 15.2 million dollars since its creation in 1995, 23 years ago.

FACT! Let’s take a second to fully comprehend that number. 15.2 MILLION dollars, all towards research, education and patient care. What an incredible accomplishment, and from what I hear, Dance Marathon is just getting started. 

5. Dance Marathon at UF is okay at fundraising 

FICTION! Just OKAY? They are better than okay! Dance Marathon at UF is the NUMBER 2 fundraising university in the nation! Can I get a Go Gators?

6. Dance Marathon has an App

Well technically FACT, but more accurately Dance Marathon has two apps! One is DM at UF and the other is called Miracle Network Dance Marathon. Both are incredible, don’t believe me? Download them for yourself!

7. One person creates the famous line dance. 

FICTION! There is an entire morale team that contributes to the creation of a 6-minute dance that everyone learns. Every person at Dance Marathon events dances this hilarious dance together and a sense of unity is felt throughout the crowd.  

8. Dance Marathon at UF has danced over 600 hours in the past 23 years. 

FACT! DM at UF has danced a total of 678 hours since its creation. That’s over 28 full days of dancing. 

9. Dance Marathon is completely student-run. 

FACT, every single member of Dance Marathon is a student. A young person who has decided to be a part of an organization to better the lives of children who are sick. Together, students have raised millions of dollars and they have improved countless lives in the process.  

10. Balance 180 had an incredible time hosting a family fun day for Dance Marathon UF and their Miracle Families. 

FACT! This is truer than true. Thank you, everyone, for hanging out with us. We had a blast and hope you did too!

The University of Florida is one of the Founding Five Universities of Dance Marathon, and they keep dominating with their fundraising. An organization formed by all students has made an everlasting impact on not only the lives of children in our local community or our state, but in conjunction with the hundreds of other university Dance Marathon teams, on the lives of children across the nation. So again, we say “thank you” to our friends at Dance Marathon at UF and across the nation for inspiring us to make a difference “For the Kids.” 


Written by Julie Walter.



The People of Balance 180: Ashlyn Johnson

We are launching our People of Balance 180 series with one of our coaches, Ashlyn Johnson. Ashlyn is an incredibly talented young woman. Not only is she a Level 10 gymnast, but she also just made it to states for the Swim and Dive team at Oak Hall School. She has been a coach at Balance 180 for the past two years and was recently accepted into the United States Air Force Academy. Such an amazing honor and accomplishment. 

When we talked to Ashlyn it quickly became apparent that it isn’t all of her success that determines who she is, but rather what each experience has taught her. Yes, training 25 hours a week will build your strength and teach you how to master complex skills. But for Ashlyn, gymnastics has taught her so much more.

“Gymnastics has taught me three invaluable life skills: time management, dedication, and discipline.”

All three skills that will serve her well as she embarks on her journey in service of our country. She goes on to explain that the most critical moments in life are the challenging ones. Moments when you think you can’t go on anymore. Times when it’s hard to breathe, or you completely forget why you started in the first place. The moments where you’ve never felt weaker, those moments are the most important because that is when you realize who you are. How strong you are. And for Ashlyn, being a student-athlete and pursuing her dream of joining the United States Air Force Academy, has revealed how much she is capable of and just how special she is.

At just seventeen years old, Ashlyn has also mastered perspective. Because every moment in her life is tediously planned out and accounted for, there really is no time to overthink or obsess about small meaningless matters. Ashlyn’s lifestyle demands unyielding focus.

When you are sprinting full speed an inanimate object (the vault table in gymnastics) and defy gravity by flying through the air, the drama of everyday life inevitably slips away. When you are diving from a plank 25 feet high, a small problem suddenly seems so negligible. And when you are applying to a military school, answering questions like why you want to serve your country, well there is no greater sense of clarity.

Ashlyn uses her experiences and perspective when she coaches our athletes. She explains that as a coach and a gymnast you can take all the significant parts of your favorite coaches and use them to be the best mentor possible. She has a distinct sense of pride when she is coaching, knowing that all of her training can help these young athletes who share her passion.

“The best part about coaching, for me, is being able to take all of their small achievements and build them into something more meaningful.”

Being able to celebrate the small successes and celebrate each athlete is what makes Ashlyn Johnson a terrific coach and an incredible person. Thank you, Ashlyn, for choosing to serve our country and inspiring us to “stay positive, work hard and make it happen.”


Written by Julie Walter.

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