Local Sports: Gymnast Ruby Butler a natural at her sport

Ruby Butler has been involved in gymnastics since she can remember.

“I was little when my mom, who is a coach, got me involved and I just kept going,” explained the 15-year-old member of the Red Deer Exelta Gymnastics Club, who does admit she wasn’t overly excited in the early going.

“Not right away anyway. But once I got competing (at age eight) I was into it.”

The sport came natural to Butler, who fell in love with the vault.

“I was good at it,” she said, adding the toughest part was the landing.

“You have to stick it … you can’t be taking the step on the landing, so that’s something I work hard at. But you get it when you put the work in.”

Butler, who is in Grade 10 at Notre Dame High School, is a Level 8 athlete and one of the premier athletes on the vault in the province. She’s won every event this season except one — placing second out of 60 competitors at the Trials to the Westerns.

However, she needed to place in the top seven all-round athletes to advance to the Westerns.

“That’s one of my goals, but right now I’m not there,” she said.

Butler also enjoys working on the floor, but had to overcome some of her “fears” on the beam.

To do that she joined the Alberta Sports Development Centre — Central (ASDC) three years ago to work on the mental side of the sport.

“I believe the mental side is the toughest,” she said.

“The ASDC has been great. They helped with tips and trials and helped me put my mind into it. They helped me to relax, get on edge, with self talk, to focus and train … to be ready.”

Ruby’s mother Nicola, who has coached for 20 years, along with Exelta women’s head coach Barb Bilsborrow, worked with Ruby and helped her get involved with the ASDC.

Butler would be one of the favourites to win gold at this year’s provincial championships in a couple of weeks, but dislocated her elbow while training on the uneven bars.

“It’s the only major injury I’ve had,” she said. “Disappointing I won’t be able to compete at the provincials.”

But once healthy Ruby will be back in the gym working out 22 hours a week to reach Level 9 and hopefully Level 10 which would qualify her to compete at the Nationals.

“My next step is Level 9 but I need to be Level 10 to try out for the Nationals,” she said. “I qualify in the vault but I need to work on the other events.”

Butler has two years remaining to get a shot at the Nationals, before she calls her gymnastics career over and concentrates on her education.

“I want to be a chiropractor and will have to go to Toronto to get my degree so I won’t be competing any more,” she said.

Ruby decided in Grade 7 what she wanted to do with her life.

“I wanted to do something in the field of medicine, but didn’t like blood much,” she said with t a laugh. “But I like my chiropractor and looking forward to getting into that.”

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at drode@reddeeradvocate.com

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