Located just east of the Escondida exit off of I-25, the Eclipse Gymnastics facility has been training young athletes in Socorro since 2014. Head Coach Aleta Gallegos, a native to Socorro County, is currently hosting non-competitive practices during the week to brush off the rust for athletes during the summer.
“The name ‘Eclipse’ comes from my family,” she said. “The facility was originally a bee farm but also a place for my father to build his own airplane. So the name has to do with aviation, not the ‘Twilight’ movies (laughs). But here at ‘Eclipse’ we don’t believe in shaming kids at all. Our facility is about instilling confidence and helping them grow as a person which is why we want to hold these types of confidence building events year round.”
The Eclipse team currently participates in the Xcel group which is geared towards gymnasts that participate in other sports and not focused on Olympics level intensive training such as the JL group. The Xcel group allots freedom for children and coaches to create original routines as opposed to the standard JL youth training. Uneven bars, balance beam, vault and floor exercise are the four Xcel competitions Eclipse participates in.
One enthusiastic parent is Mandy Durkin. Her daughter Payton, seven, is heading into her second year with the team.
“I just try to help out however I can,” Durkin said. “We started Payton with basic Rec classes and Aleta asked if we wanted to get her more advanced training so here we are. She’s even teaching my son, Brycen, who is all over the place at home, how to do a forward roll and things like that without breaking an arm. Gymnastics is so important because it teaches kids how to properly use their bodies. Aleta’s motto is, to paraphrase, ‘we aren’t raising olympians, we’re raising human beings’ which is something I really love as a parent. This truly is a family here.”
Gallegos has been involved with gymnastics since the age of two and participated in other larger city facilities here in New Mexico. Since the opening of Eclipse different age level classes have been provided including those for two year olds, parent assisted basic skills for 18 months and standard classes for grade school students.
“Gymnastics teaches kids inner strength,” she said. “Not that other sports do not but it teaches them to conquer fear when you’re out there on your own. Most team sports don’t ask you to do a cartwheel on a four-inch wide beam. It teaches the kids to confidently face fear in life.”
Gallegos will face new challenges this coming season. Her sister and former business partner Megan Johnston tragically took her own life in 2017 at the same time Aleta was going through having a child and unable to coach on a regular basis. Gallegos continues to press on to encourage the young gymnasts with the help of several team parents heading into 2019 competition.
Recent accomplishments for the Eclipse team include appearances at the Route 66 USA State Championships, the first time since the 1970’s for Socorro, second place in the silver and bronze categories in the USA Gymnastics Xcel group, a fourth place finish at the Snowflake invitational and 3rd at the Dreamcatcher invite, both taking place in Los Alamos. Three competitors also made it to the Southwest Regionals in Galveston, Texas for the first time in 2018 as well.
Registration for your son or daughter will take place on July 19 from 4 to 7 p.m. and July 20 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Eclipse facility with official team practice getting underway on August 5 at the Escondida facility.
State sponsored meets will be finalized and begin in October.