BERLIN, Md. – The town of Berlin may become the hometown of the next teen Olympian.
After four years of trying, Cade Solito, 13, is officially heading to the Future Stars program on November 7th in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He qualified for the event Sunday at a regional championship.
"I'm really excited to go, it was really a sense of relief to just kind of know that all of my hard work has paid off," says Cade.
The Berlin gymnast currently ranks sixth in the nation, training five hours a day, six days a week.
"Me and my coach have been working so hard at it, just day in and day out," says Cade.
However, his coach, Fran Fennell, is more than just a coach, but also his grandmother. She became the head coach for the boys' team after her daughter Carmella started "Twisters Gymnastics" in Berlin thirteen years ago, just before Cade was born. Shortly after, Cade joined the team. Carmella decided to become a national level judge in men's gymnastics so she could help out, but not coach her own children.
"The feeling from the parent is completely different from the coach," says Carmella. "When it's your child it's amazing."
"It's hard, I always say, I'm a coach, I need to keep my feelings together, but I couldn't on Sunday," says Fennell. "I was crying I was so excited."
Cade's accomplishment was one of many reasons for Fennell's excitement. Cade's younger brother, Gavin, also qualified, but at only the age of seven, he is still too young to go.
"It still feels really good," says Gavin.
Even the youngest of the three, at just 18 months old, has started doing some very basic gymnastics.
"It's been a lot of hard work, a lot of tears, a lot of hours," says Carmella. "We never get to eat dinner we are here until eight every single day."
Carmella says that Sunday's accomplishment makes all of their hard work worthwhile. Fennell says the boys have never let the sport get in the way of school work.
"They learn from a very young age how to balance their time and they do very well at it," says Fennell. "They're all straight A students."
Currently, their long-term goal is the Olympics.
"Olympics are in our future, we will do it we know what it takes to work hard and get there, and one way or another we're going to make it there."
As far as short-term goals go, they are keeping it much simpler.
"The more families we can show that hard work pays off in gymnastics, in youth sports, but mostly in life, it makes it all worth it," says Carmella.
Another Twisters' gymnast, Finlley Stern, 9, will also head to the competition on November 7th, but will compete in the 10-year-old age group because of his skill level.
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