Teen Gymnast Soars to Victory


Junior Ethan Yost practices a strengthening skill on the parallel bars at Excel Gymnastics Academy in Geneva. Yost has attended Excel for 10 years and currently coaches several classes for younger students.

The gym looks like it’s an ocean of never-ending blue mats. But there isn’t the sound of seagulls and the breeze of the waves. There is the sound of gymnasts competing in events and the audience clapping and yelling in awe. 

Lights shine down, making the floor illuminate. Everything looks like it is just an obstacle waiting to be conquered. Bars are waiting for someone to take a shot at them. The balance beam sits as it waits for someone to showcase their skills. The scent of chalk fills the air at an overwhelming and familiar rate. The vaults and the floor are all waiting for their turn to be the center of attention. 

All of the events are ready for the day. And so are the contestants. A young teenage boy is ready to shed the spotlight on them in a fascinating way, as this is the moment he has been waiting for for a long time.  

The teenager stares at the vault event he is about to dominate and can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment. The events he is competing in consist of a floor and vault routine. When it is finally time to stop looking around and perform them, he is so excited he is bouncing on the balls of his feet. When he walks up to them, he only feels more at home because the equipment is so close to his own back home. 

The light seems to shine brighter as he takes a deep breath, runs and soars into the air to victory. 

Now, junior Ethan Yost can look back on the day he went to state finals as something to always remember with pride. 

“My scores on the floor were a 9.15 and a 9.3, placing me in sixth for the floor exercise finals,” Ethan said. “For vault, I scored an 8.85. Although vault did not qualify me for finals, the experience of competing for a vault in state prelims was exhilarating and motivating. Competing in state my sophomore year was an experience I will never forget.”

Every gymnast starts with a score of 10.0. Throughout the routine, the judges deduct points for mistakes in execution. Once the performance is over, the final score is tallied, and the result is posted. 

Ethan scoring a 9.15 and 9.3 on his floor is something that he is incredibly proud of. Even though he didn’t score the number to go to the finals in his vault routine, he is still proud of the number he obtained. And so is his coach.

Recreational gymnastics coach Tony Sanchez is always blown away by Ethan’s talents. Sanchez has been Ethan’s coach for nearly 10 years and has seen nothing but the unexpected from Ethan. Sanchez himself had been a gymnast while he was in high school, so it is always incredible for him to see what Ethan is always able to accomplish. 

“I am proud of what Ethan has accomplished over all the years I have been coaching him. If you want the bigger skills in a sport like gymnastics, you must commit to being in the gym at least 12 or more hours a week,” Sanchez said. “Ethan only averages three hours per week and can still perform high-level skills.” 

Most gymnasts spread out the 12 hours of training by three hours per day. That’s why so many gymnasts are in great shape and have great talent. Ethan has exceeded those expectations without needing to do all of the extra work. Only training for an average of three hours per week is remarkable considering the skill he has.

Sanchez can look back at a distant memory of Ethan’s talents and laugh for many reasons. One time when Ethan was younger, Sanchez thought that introducing an advanced new skill on the high-bar would be something to challenge Ethan. The talent is called a three-quarter giant. 

“After he heard its explanation, Ethan told me that he could already do it because he did it on the bar he had in his basement. Of course, I did not believe him as we never did the skill before,” Sanchez said. “After a few minutes of back and forth, I told him he could try it on his own. Ethan got up on the high bar and performed the skill easily. He turned and gave me the ‘told you so’ look when he finished. I still laugh at the moment more so for the look he gave me than proving me wrong.” 

Ethan’s talents go back to when he was a kid. He can look back on it as being somewhat humorous when he was around six years old and would do flips off the couch and just hope for the best when it came to the landing. 

Ethan flipping off the couch was what motivated his parents to enroll him in gymnastics. Kim Yost, Ethan’s mother, recalls all of the times they tried to get him into different sports. She said that when he was five years old, they signed him up for t-ball, but they could tell that he just didn’t like it. They also tried to talk to him about playing soccer, but he was entirely against it. “One day, Ethan’s uncle Ryan said, ‘Why don’t you put this kid in gymnastics? He is constantly flipping off of the couch and doing tricks.’ So we thought, ‘why not?’.” Kim said. “Let’s see if gymnastics is Ethan’s passion. We signed him up for classes at Excel, and he loved it. Plus, he was good. ”

Ethan favored the bright lights that illuminated the blue mats rather than the muddy grasslands that made up the soccer fields and the sandy ball field for the beginning of baseball. 

He will always be grateful for going to his current gym, which he has been going to for nearly seven years. He would pass up going back to a soccer field any day of the week.

Ever since Ethan has attended Excel, he has been more than happy. Currently, he is coaching several classes a week for younger kids. Sanchez can’t express enough how amazing it is to have Ethan on the staff. Ethan always makes it clear that he enjoys teaching aspiring gymnasts how to do gymnastics as much as he loves doing it himself.

Gymnastics is something that Ethan uses to decompress. But he also does it because of how much he loves it. Sometimes, he can still smell the chalk in the air and feel the excitement roll through his bones throughout the day. 

But when it comes to going to gymnastics and coaching during the week, he is faced with time management for his academics. 

“Balancing my academic life from personal life can be somewhat difficult,” Ethan said. “But, in recent years, I have developed a rhythm that allows me to do well in both aspects of my life.”

Ethan currently is taking several AP classes while also maintaining good grades as he balances his private and academic life. 

But keeping up with his schoolwork is not as hard as keeping up with his mental health. 

“One of the most important things for me, when it comes to balance, has been prioritizing myself and my mental health,” he says. “There are some students who will stay up endlessly to study and complete homework. However, I always try to ensure I get plenty of rest and whatever downtime I need.”

Of course, it is always somewhat hard to be committed to it, but prioritizing his well-being is one of the most beneficial things he has done to maintain balance. With his balance method in life, he is nearly unstoppable when it comes to staying on top of all of his varied responsibilities. 

Ethan’s life of constant movement, whether it is his extraordinary talents in gymnastics or his capability to balance his school life, has been something he is proud to be experiencing.

The moments that he is most proud of are documented on his social media accounts, as he posts gymnastics tutorials and other athletic content on TikTok and Instagram. He will especially never forget when he posted a handstand routine on TikTok, and Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas duetted the video on a side-by-side screen. 

Another memorable moment was when he posted on Instagram a gymnastics event in Milwaukee where Simon Biles was performing. Later that day, she liked and commented on the post. Ethan had described it as “incredible and indescribable” to have someone with so much talent look at his video.

The idea that he went from flipping off of his old couch when he was six years old to getting recognized by Olympic-level gymnasts and going to state is something that his parents, Kim and Rich Yost, will always look back on and be proud of. 

Kim always finds Ethan a kind, respectful, intelligent and funny kid. She can’t even begin to express how proud she is of her son, from watching him grow up to seeing him be chosen to be Mr. Kaneland while raising $1,400 for people in need. 

Ethan told Kim about some of the funniest things about being a gymnast. She recalled when he told her what everyone thinks when they hear he is into gymnastics.

She said that people always ask him if he is going to the Olympics when he is older and if he can do a flip. And Ethan’s response is always the same. 

“He always laughs and says, ‘No, I am not going to the Olympics, but yes, I would do a flip for you anytime,’” Kim said.