The Forsyth County News' 2015-16 All-County Gymnastics Team is presented by Nalley Roofing.
Whether its hurdling through the air, suspending herself over a narrow beam or transitioning from one bar to another—while upside down—Maddy Sims seems to do everything with ease.
The unquestioned leader of South Forsyth's gymnastics team, Sims, a departing senior, has been a staple of the Lady War Eagles' gymnastics program since it began her freshman season. She's stayed the course, even helping with other gymnasts while nursing injuries, to help grow the program from a pipe dream to one that can go after a GHSA state championship.
It was at the state championship at Westminster on April 22 that Sims showed off her skills to a capacity crowd. She placed third with a 9.35 on bars and a 9.55 on floor to claim a sixth-place all-around finish. Her individual finishes were the best on the high school circuit during her four-year career.
She had top-three finishes at the county meet this season, finishing second in all-around, second on floor, second on bars and first on vault.
Sims also had the opportunity to advance to regionals with her club program, Gymnastics Training Center in Buford, but chose not to. April 22 was her last competitive meet—in her life, she says.
“It hasn't hit me that it's all over, that I've competed in my last event ever,” Sims said. “It's all kind of surreal right now, just finishing high school and everything. I come home and I'm not quite sure what to do. I need a job, I think.”
She has a sense of humor now, but admits, even with a glimmer of pride, that tears will come.
Sims doesn't remember not being a gymnast. She started controlled training at the age of 3, then began competing as earlier as the first grade. By the time Sims was of high school age she was splitting 20 hours of practice a week between club teams and the South team, which was in construction mode.
Even though the high school program at South was new, Sims stuck with it and helped represent the program at state. As a sophomore she tore a wrist ligament that nearly sidelined her enough to cut her career short, but she stuck with lower-body conditioning and anything else she could as she rehabbed to stay in shape. After questioning whether or not she wanted to continue, some of her friends at Gymnastics Training Center talked her into moving clubs. She's split time between South and Buford ever since.
Needless to say, she's been busier than most high school students.
“I've spent more time in the gym than at home I feel like,” Sims said. “Those I compete with and work with are really a part of my family.”
“But it's time to start over and find a new normal,” Sims said.
Question: Did you have any opportunities to compete collegiately?
Sims: I did. They would have been at smaller schools, a lot of them up north. As much as I love the sport I want to be close to home and not 15 hours away, so staying in Georgia is important to me. I love the south.
Q: What will you be doing now that gymnastics is over?
Sims: I'm going to Georgia Southern. My cousin goes there and is in the fashion merchandising program. I really want to get into that and only Georgia and Georgia Southern were state schools that had it, so I chose Southern.
Q: What was your favorite thing about competing with the South team?
Sims: I was on the first team ever at South, so that sticks with you. It's really cool. I went to state as a freshman and we had a really small team, so it's been so cool to see it grow. We made so many memories just competing, and my favorite thing was everyone in the county cheered for eachother all of the time. We all know eachother, compete on club teams together. Many of the girls at Forsyth Central and West Forsyth are girls I've grown up with, and the Buford team is a lot of my club friends, so it's a big, competitive family.
Q: You were a great all-around performer. Which event do you like best?
Sims: I'd have to say bars. They're never even my best event, but I just like it. It's really complex and difficult but once you get the hang of it it's cool.