Reaching for the Stars- Interview with Homeschooler from Bloemfontein Luca Klopper – Our Very Own Number 1 at the SA Gym Games, qualified for the SA team and placed 2nd in the Region 5 Youth Games.

Natasha Sonn : What is tumbling?

Luca Klopper : Tumbling is a gymnastic discipline in which gymnasts perform a series of complex, swift and rhythmical acrobatic skills on a 25m long sprung track. The gymnast gains speed and power by running along a track and performing a series of somersaults and twists. Each series, comprises of 1-8 elements in which the athlete jumps, twists and flips placing only their hands and feet on the track. Moves performed in tumbling include flips, somersaults, tucks and handsprings. Tumblers are judged on the difficulty level and form of their routine. Tumbling is the perfect sport for those looking for a fast-paced and daring discipline.

NS: My understanding is that you are currently Homeschooled? Were you always homeschooled? If not when did your homeschooling journey begin? And what curriculum are you using?

LK: I started on my homeschooling journey since the middle of my grade 4 year, and I am approaching grade 11. At the moment, I use “Math U See” for math, “The Good and The Beautiful” for English. Science and History are both online studies. 

NS: What is your opinion on being Homeschooled?

LK: I personally feel that homeschooling is a much better option, you still get educated but don’t need to worry about how you dress or how long your hair is, as with most schools.

NS: What does your academic day look like as a homeschooler?

LK: Most days I tackle one subject for the day and a few other small things to focus on. We also join other homeschoolers on excursions, which is usually a fun day and a fun way to learn about a place or something of interest, without having to read it from a book or online. In my opinion learning is much easier to remember if you have actually experienced it. 

NS: I heard that the Bloemfontein Homeschoolers will be hosting a Matric Dance? Will you be attending in your Matric Year?

LK: When the day comes, I will probably be attending, no matter what. I don’t care if I will have a date or not; either way it would be a great story in the future, I’ll make sure of it.

NK: Why did you first choose this sport?

LK: Ever since I was little, I’ve always climbed trees, liked swinging on monkey swings or doing handstands. I did karate for roughly, two years, but  my parents discovered that I was quite flexible, and they took me to take a look at gymnastics. I never looked back!

NK:  When would you say you fell in love with the sport? Did you fall in love with it?

LK: I first started with MAG Men’s Artistic Gymnastics in 2013 and then discovered Tumbling in 2016. I immediately fell in love with it, mainly because it looked like so much fun.

NK: How much time do you spend on practicing this sport as a homeschooler? What other sport do you do?

LK: I practice around 6hrs per week, and roughly 9hrs per week before a big competition. We don’t have a set time with school, but we have a set amount of school work to do, if you complete that then you can do whatever you like. That motivates me in a way.

NK: What will you be focusing on now?

LK: I’ve always mainly focused on Gymnastics, but that’s scaled down a bit and balanced out now with me having to focus on my GED.

NK: What motivated you to step out in the green and yellow? And How did that feel?

LK: At the recent SA Gym Games 2021, I represented my province, Free State. This competition has entries from all 9 provinces in South Africa. I competed in the Region 5 Youth Game Tumbling Trials held at the SA Gym Games and placed 1st. I hope to be selected for the SA team where I’ll be representing South Africa in December 2021. The SA Gymnastics Federation (TUM) Region 5, is a gymnastics competition amongst all the countries in the southern part of Africa.

NK: What don’t you enjoy about this sport?

LK: The only two things I don’t enjoy is firstly, that there are very few tumbling competitors at my level, because most stop at the higher levels because it either gets too difficult or injuries make it harder for them to tumble. Secondly, tumbling is not an Olympic sport yet. But in place of that one can compete in ‘The Worlds’, which is less popular than the Olympics for Gymnasts.

NK: Do you feel that winning is important? How do you pick yourself up on a day when you haven’t accomplished what you set out to?

LK: Winning is definitely important to me.  If I do not accomplish something that I wanted to on any given day, then that means I wasn’t focusing or picturing my goal clearly, I would fix that and try again. What also works for me is having a rival that I can aim to beat. The best thing about having a rival in a different club or city, is that I wouldn’t know how much they have improved since we last competed. I aim for the hardest moves which I feel confident in, and make a routine with those moves.

NK: I am sure this sport has not left you without bumps and bruises? Did it ever scare you?

LK: I’ve always enjoyed taking risks, so I do try things that could hurt me, but luckily they never have. The first time I was scared to try a move, was around the middle of 2020. I had to do a double twist, it is a back flip but straight with two full twists while you are still in the air. I have attempted this move before, but never landed it; and just as I was starting to get it, covid hit and we had to move halls in order for our practice hall to be used as a mini covid hospital. The hall that the club moved to was much smaller and my landing mat was much thinner than the usual one. On top of all of that, when I started doing the double twist, I would twist to the side where the wall was. One day I twisted to the side, hit the wall and landed on the concrete floor! Luckily, I didn’t break anything but I was definitely scared to try it again. But I did and I went on to nail it at the SA’s!!!

NK: What is your favourite tumbling move?

LK: My favourite move would probably be the double twist.

NK: Any words of wisdom to our young homeschooling gymnasts out there?

LK: Focus on the outcome, not the obstacle. Oh and point your toes! Judges deduct a lot of marks if you don’t!

Thank you so much for taking the time to share and inspire our other homeschoolers Luca, and congratulations on beating your personal best at every turn!