DENVER (KDVR) — For Alexis Vasquez, life is all about balance. It’s about learning to balance her chase for perfection with finally letting go.
“When I was focusing on being perfect it never worked out, which is crazy because that’s all I would focus on,” says the Denver sophomore gymnast. “It took me a minute to step back and relax and realize you don’t need to be doing all this to be perfect.”
Alexis has always found peace in a place that would make anyone uneasy — flipping on a four-inch wide piece of wood.
“I’ve always felt comfortable on the beam,” she says. “The way it feels to hit a skill perfectly, I love that feeling.”
She is as mentally tough as they come, in part because of the challenges she has already overcome.
“Before, it mostly showed up in the gym, with anxiety and my OCD. Every mat had to be perfect or else I would not go. I couldn’t sleep because of it, my mind wouldn’t turn off.”
During her freshman year, Alexis’ anxiety and OCD became too much to handle on her own, so she opened up about her struggles to her family and her team.
“I was just so proud of her, proud of her courage and bravery and vulnerability,” says Denver gymnastics head coach Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart. “To put herself out there and talk about things that aren’t easy. You have to be so strong and tough mentally, but I would say that’s where she shines. She actually is very strong and tough mentally. And mental health is an ongoing process and journey.”
Part of the journey for Alexis meant letting go of the need to be perfect. And when she did, something amazing happened. Not once, but twice this season she scored a perfect 10 on beam.
“I was not expecting the 10,” Alexis remembers. “So when I saw the 10 I was so happy, that was one of my major goals for college gymnastics was to get a 10 on beam because I knew I could do it. And then seeing how happy my teammates were, it was incredible.”