In 2002, twin sisters Holly and Hailey Jarzynka tried gymnastics at the urging of their mother, a former gymnastics competitor herself. The program was titled, “Mommy and Me.”
She told them if it ever stopped being fun, they could quit.
The sisters recently graduated from Trinity High School, and though they are hanging up their leotards, it’s not because the fun has gone away. They are attending Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, which has no gymnastics program.
“Obviously, gymnastics was always fun for us,” Holly said. “The Mommy and Me turned into us going to age group and then up to the H-E-B Gymnastics Team.”
In their final event representing Trinity, they competed in the National High School Gymnastics Association Senior Invitational in Fort Myers, Fla., recently.
“It was such an amazing experience to represent Team Texas,” Holly said. “The time we spent in Florida was truly amazing, especially with coach [Rebecca] Shaw as the Team Texas head coach. We had barely met the other girls from Team Texas prior to nationals, but we all bonded very quickly and became great friends.”
Holly and Hailey competed for Euless Junior High in ninth grade before moving on to three very successful years at Trinity. It was something each had dreamed of doing since childhood.
“When I was little and saw the big girls practice. I wanted to be just like them,” Hailey said.
“These two girls are absolutely wonderful,” said Shaw, who is also the Trinity coach. “They were great assets to our team for leadership, positive attitudes and great role models. They both increased their athletic abilities consistently throughout their three years on my team. They achieved many goals we had set out for them.
“We are going to miss these two greatly. Their smiles every day ... their peppiness and positivity are going to be hard to replace.”
Their specialty was all-around, so they competed in most events.
“Sophomore year was the only year we didn’t compete all-around,” Holly said. “I competed vault and bars, and Hailey competed beam and floor. It was funny because by senior year, Hailey was better at vault and bars and I was better at beam and floor.”
While both participated in club gymnastics, they say their favorite memories came from competing for Trinity.
“Junior year, I completed giants on bars for the fist time, and even though it took a good part of the season to actually complete them successfully, once I did, it was the best feeling in the world,” Hailey said.
A giant is when a gymnast rotates 360 degrees around an axis while in a fully extended position. It is performed on the uneven bars.
Holly said among her favorite memories is qualifying for state in the 50th anniversary of the Texas Gymnastics Coaches Association this season.
“This was the first time we had made it to state without going just because our team made it,” she said. “Each year led to new memories, but senior year was a special year. Not only was it the 50th anniversary of gymnastics in Texas, but it was also our year to have the chance to make the nationals team for Texas.”
Only seniors compete at nationals.
Hailey and Holly both received the Mark Williams Memorial Scholarship. It is named after the longtime Trinity gymnastics coach who died after a battle with cancer in 2009.
Hailey said as she and Holly move into college, and even through life, they will continue to be encouraged by Shaw. Hailey recalled some of her favorite quotes from Shaw, such as “confidence is key,” “if you give up, you won’t have a story” and”‘let your lion out.”
“Coach Shaw is so amazing and has helped me grow so much, not only as a gymnast, but also as a person,” Hailey said. “She always finds a way to incorporate life lessons into practices.”
Both Holly and Hailey plan to major in biochemistry. Holly wants to pursue a pre-med degree, though she’s uncertain what kind of doctor she wants to be.
“I want to be a doctor because sophomore year, both of my grandfathers got cancer. My mom’s dad got lung cancer and my dad’s dad got brain cancer,” Holly said. “This great loss in my life led me to want to help people avoid this kind of pain.”
Hailey wants to get a master’s degree in biotechnology. She wants to go into the development of pharmaceuticals.
“Even though I want to do something big, Coach Shaw has always told us, ‘Don’t forget the little people,’ ” she said.
Though they won’t be competing in gymnastics in college, they plan to continue in sports at the intramural level. They are also going to start running more. In fact, they are in training for the Jalapeno Half Marathon in Fort Worth on Sunday.
And, of course, they will be roommates in college.
“We’ve been womb-mates and roommates for 18 years,” Hailey said. “A few more won’t make a difference.
“And in college, we will actually both have our own closet space as opposed to sharing the smallest closet in the house. But we plan on still sharing clothes.”