A sharp twist of her car keys and the crescendo of the piano keys — today is “Build Me Up Buttercup” — helps wake senior Brooklyn Beck up. It’s 5:10 a.m., and she’s already on Shawnee Mission Parkway on her ten-minute drive to morning gymnastics practice at Shawnee Mission West, where floor routines and conditioning await.
After an hour and a half of it, she scoots to the bathroom, throws on a sweatshirt and heads to school — barely enough time for a QuikTrip stop: tea and a breakfast burrito every time. The school day comes and goes, 2:40 p.m. hits, but her day’s far from over. She runs to her car, pops her head in and grabs her cross country clothes — kept in one of the three Lululemon bags she brings to school.
As captain of both cross country and gymnastics this season, Beck’s days are busy — sprints on the track are fast, and sprints to get there on time are even faster.
Beck, a gymnast of 11 years, started cross country last year after her gymnastics coach told her they would have morning practices two days a week. Before, after-school gymnastics practices prevented her from taking up the sport.
Since freshman year, Beck’s friends on track would gush about cross country — how great the feeling of finishing a five mile run was, and how the friends they made on cross country were hilarious. Beck realized how much she wanted to join, and those morning practices gave her the perfect opportunity to do both sports, meaning she could spend more time with her track friends and stay in better shape.
“It was kind of something that I had never thought of,” Beck said. “It was a challenge for me that I really wanted to accomplish, to prove to everyone that I could do both.”
After only one year of cross country, she was nominated for captain by her teammates and coaches — and was nominated for gymnastics captain three weeks after.
“She is a go-getter,” Bernadette Wagner, Beck’s gymnastics coach, said. “She’s not bothered by just doing what she already knows, and can do. She’s always trying to do more.”
As a captain, Beck tries to attend both sports as much as she can. She has morning gymnastics practices every Wednesday and Friday morning, the days she’s able to run cross country after school. On the other three days, it’s gymnastics after school — which means she has to run on her own to make up for missing practice. Her coaches are understanding of the fact that she has to be absent sometimes.
On days when Beck has gymnastics meets after school, she runs in the morning and sleeps until 5:15 a.m. — 30 more minutes than usual. Beck begins her runs by texting her teammates asking how far how far they went and makes sure she’s on track with them.
Brooklyn’s mom, Shannon Beck, even caught her lacing up her running shoes at 9 p.m. to take a break from studying for her Calc BC test — one of her three AP classes.
“She is determined to get her practices in,” Shannon said. “She knows whether it is cross country runs or gymnastics practice, it will give her [the] endurance to be more successful.”
Doing both sports has allowed Beck the opportunity to grow closer to both teams as well as keep her busy, and being busy is necessary for her. She’s found a routine that works — and she’s always got something to chase.
“I’m a very goal-oriented person,” Beck said. “By doing both of the sports I always have goals in my mind, so I have more to work for.”
Sometimes, Beck has to work around conflicting meets for both sports on the same day. At the beginning of the fall season, she had both cross country time trials and her first gymnastics meet on the same day. It’s not the first or last time this will happen, with gymnastics and cross country league and also cross country regionals and gymnastics state on the same day. Beck faced the same conflict last year.
“It was a really fun day,” Beck said. “That sounds crazy, but I loved it. It made me less nervous for the meets because I didn’t have just one thing to focus on and be nervous about. I had multiple, so I thought about both of them.”
Those two meets will be Beck’s last ones ever. From then on, there’ll be no more worrying about waking up early or trying to squeeze in a run — and she’ll have a few less Lululemon bags to pack.