Represent the #646 at JO Nationals for EVA...
May 2, 2017


On April 8th, 2017 an extraordinary moment occurred at Region 4 Championships at Concordia University in St. Paul, MN.  I want to tell you about it but I need to rewind back to two weeks prior.
I received a phone call from a Swiss Turners Mom, Karen Schroeder, informing me about a situation with one of the Swiss Turners gymnasts.  At the Wisconsin State Boys Championships, because of receiving chemotherapy, gymnast, Evan Van Aacken, wasn't able to keep up with the pace of the rotations and had to miss an event.  Yet, he still took 1st place on Vault, 3rd on Pommel Horse, and 5th on P-Bars.
Evan’s goal was to compete all six events at Region 4 Championships.  With this information I decided, with the support of the Region 4 Championships Meet Director and Meet referee, we would permit him to go at his own pace and energy; if he needed to sit out a rotation and catch the next one, we would permit it.  At the Championships, we informed all of the coaches so they could expect a change in their rotation sheets and we informed the judges.  Everyone was more than willing to make it work for Evan.
In fact, at Region 4 Championships, in the Level 10 Session, Evan finished all six events without having to sit out any rotation.
An announcement was made, following the Level 10 Session, prior to the awards ceremony, that a gymnast in this session was dealing with chemotherapy as recent as eight days before the competition and that he had achieved his goal of performing all six events at Regional Championships.  The crowd broke into a standing ovation for him. Yet, this was only the beginning.
What people would learn is that Evan had actually placed in several events. So, when he took his place on the award stand, again people stood and erupted with applause and enthusiastic cheers for him.
What happened next, no one saw coming.

After the AA winners had been awarded and recognized, an announcement was made that the Qualifiers to J.O.Nationals would be introduced.

". . . beginning in ascending order, the 15th qualifier is..., the 14th Qualifier is . . . Evan Van Aacken."

The people in the stands exploded, standing, cheering, waving signs and beating the bleacher floor plates.
Then something extraordinary happened.  The gymnasts in the session had been sitting on the FX area in front of the awards stand.  Spontaneously, quietly, for a second, as though something had erupted from the earth, they all stood in unison applauding, some with their arms raised, pumping the air, for Evan, who quietly stood on the podium smiling.  The arena reverberated with the sound of family, friends, and people who didn't know him, further energized and inspired by the standing tribute the athletes were giving Evan, for his achievement and his inspiration.

Evan Van Aacken will be in Florida, competing All-around at USA Gymnastics J.O. Nationals, May 10-14, 2017.

Check out the video at the following link to be a part of this special moment.

Evan's Athletic Profile Page:*

Daniel Coon
USAG Region 4 Chairman

* All with permission of the Van Aacken Family: Teresa, Bill, Gabrielle, Anthony & Evan.
   -Note Evan's athletic profile for more details."



Article originally appeared on Region 6 Men's Gymnastics (
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