There is no rest for the Olympic hopeful. So Stephanie Willim is spending-Friday morning in the gym, just as she does every other day.
Never mind that the rest of the MG Gymnastics team is in Ocean City for a holiday and exhibition. Coach Margie Weiss left a long checklist of things for Willim to practice.
First things first for 13-year-old Willim. And before she can play, she knows that she has to complete a three-hour workout.
Actually, things are quite pleasant in the gym. A breeze is blowing through the open doors. The room is big and uncluttered, with mirrors on one wall and trophies on another.
Suddenly, the shady silence is shattered as "Entry of the Gladiators" blares from the tape recorder.
Willim skips through her free-exercise routine almost flawlessly-tumbling here, dancing there and smiling everywhere.It is clear that she is having a good time. Never mind Ocean City.
Ater several rounds of that routine, she abruptly changes from grace to power, racing across the gym and completing a handstand vault. Several other vaults are tried, with Willim listening patiently to coach Jane Tamagna's suggestions following each attempt.
From there, she moves to the uneven parallel bars, her favorite event. She hurls her 64-pound frame around the top bar, catches herself on the bottom one, and then back to the top for a Hecht-back dismount.
Finally, she is ready for a glass of water and some questions. The big brown eyes crinkle up as a grin spreads across her face.
"I want to make the Olympics," she said. "And then maybe I might go to the next one."
Young as she is, Willim has made up her mind about her future. And what else would one expect from a child who has won eight major gymnastics titles already this year, in her fourth year of competition?
In the AAU senior elite competition alone, she won a gold medal in the all-around competition, as well as in all four individual events - balance beam, floor exercise, uneven parallel bars and vaulting.
That feat has only been accomplished by only two other, Linda Metheny and Ernestine Carter, both of whom were 19 and had competed in the Olympics.
But Willim is used to beating older gymnasts with more experience.
Her mother started her in gymnastics when she was nine. She had a problem with hyperactivity and Mrs. Willim thought this would be a good way for her to expend some of her energy.
Willim entered her first competition a few months later and finished fourth. But she's been winning ever since. Her next competition is in Germany in September.
"There is a combination of reasons why Stephanie is as good as she is," Weiss said. "Obviously, the first one is her natural talent and determination.
"Second, is her parents. She wouldn't be as good as she is if her mother wasn't willing to drive her all the way out here from Bethesda (about 25 miles) and then sit and babysit for six hours.
"Finally there are the coaches. We have a male and a female coach. That's almost essential now. The female helps with the elegance and what the judges are looking for. The male helps with lifting and tumbling.
"And that's our three-punch triangle that is essential to gymnastic success."
Willim agrees. "I like 'em," she said of her coaches.
But does she ever weary of the constant workouts? Does she like to do anything else?
"Well, I went to a movie ("Rocky") once," she said. "And I like to back-pack and swim and ride my bike with my mom, I like to go horseback riding sometimes."
The responses come in short bursts, for even with all her success, Willim is still a little shy.
Reporters don't bother her. "I think they're nice," she said, but she doesn't read many of their stories. "I look at the pictures."
Willim once had a run-in with the world's most well-known gymnast. "I asked Olga (Korbut) for her autograph three times and she wouldn't give it to me." So she switched her allegiance to the Soviet Union's Nellie Kim, who, like Willim is quiet and less flashy than other famous athletes. "She's not a snob and she's nice and she's good," Willim said.
Those words could just as easily describe Willim. The only question left is "How good is she?"
"She has a better chance than most people to get to the Olympics," Weiss said. "There's a lot of hard work for her. But if she does the job, she'll be there."
Frank Bare, executive director of the United States Gymnastics Federation, also is impressed with Willim's ability.
"I've seen her in training camps and exhibitions," he said. "Well, I go to all the major competitions, so if she was there I probably was there.
"I'd say she's one of the best candidates we have right now. Stephanie's level skills is really high. What she needs to work on is some elegance and dance. But that, very often, comes with age."
Bare said the next three years are important for Willim in terms of growth, development and motivation. And if she improves in terms of elegance, "She's among the top four or five girls we've got to make the team," Bare said.
But never mind just making the team. "We're working for a gold medal," Weiss said. So, for now Ocean City and vacation are far from Willim's mind.