Years ago, I was signing my new kids book at the library in Chevy Chase, Maryland. I signed a copy “For Tomás — Happy Reading.” Little did I know, I was signing a book for a future world champion.
Tomás Minc and teammate Ryan MacCagnan won the world title for the 13- to 14-year-old age group in synchronized trampoline last November in St. Petersburg, Russia. That is an event where two athletes perform tricks on side-by-side trampolines.
Tomás, who is an eighth-grader at Westland Middle School in Bethesda, also finished third in the double mini-trampoline competition. That’s when a gymnast races down the runway, bounces on the front part of a trampoline, does a flip and lands on the back part of the trampoline and does another aerial trick.
It is one of those sports where you think: “How did he possibly do that?”
Tomás became a world champion almost by accident. His parents signed him up for a gymnastics camp when he was 3 years old. The camp’s coaches noticed his athletic ability, and soon Tomás was tumbling and bouncing on trampolines all the time.
By 10 years old, however, Tomás was more into soccer. He still plays and is a speedy forward for the Westland team. But he found he missed the trampoline.
“I really like the feeling of flying you get on the trampoline,” Tomás told me when I spoke to him at a recent practice session. “It is like you are working against gravity.”
So he rededicated himself to his sport. “The more I worked at it, the more I liked it,” Tomás said.
Now Tomás practices about 18 to 20 hours a week at the Rockville location of the Dynamite Gymnastics Center. He is trying to qualify for this year’s world championships in the 15- to 16-year-old age group. (Tomás turns 15 in November.)
He is off to a good start. Tomás placed first in the double mini-trampoline in the first of three qualifying events.
Gail Carhart, the head coach at the Dynamite Gymnastics Center, likes Tomás’s chances.
“The strongest part of Tomás is his mind,” Carhart said, tapping her forehead. “He does not get nervous. He knows what he can do and does it.”
If you are curious about the sport and would like to see Tomás and other tumblers and trampoline athletes do their incredible tricks, there are two events coming up. This weekend, the Fairland Classic, the largest trampoline and tumbling event in the Mid-Atlantic region, will be held at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County (UMBC) Retriever Activities Center Arena. The Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia state championships will be held April 7 at Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville, Maryland.
Who knows, maybe you can get Tomás Minc’s autograph.