7 on Your Sideline: Gymnast Ajani Cargle

May 6, 2012 (FRANKFORT, Ill.)

Cargle also helped his Lincoln-Way East Griffins win the state title.

Ironically, after starting gymnastics at the age of 6, he had given up on the sport before he came to high school. Thankfully, he came back, because his coach, Skip Adamson, knew that was his calling.

"An extremely special athlete. He came in with not a high, high, high level, and he barely made the varsity team as a freshman. So, a lot of club kids have that issue, but he has improved dramatically over the last three years. Not every kid can do what I ask of them, and not every kid can make their body to do what I ask them to make their body do, and he's able to do that on both ends," said Adamson.

"I feel like, like any kid, I've always wanted to try different things, so yes, in seventh grade, I stopped. And really it was just an excuse. When we moved out here, I just used that as an excuse not to come back, but I was tired of it and I did want to try other things, so I stopped that for a year and then when I got to high school, I came back and joined the team," said Cargle.

One of the reasons to try something different was because in the African-American culture, other sports are typically more popular, but Ajani's mother saw something at an early age and encouraged him to go into something different.

"Actually, in the environment in terms of the school that he has been in, it actually kind of gave the extra push to try something different and out of his league, because, again, us African-Americans, we normally do football and we normally do basketball, so he tried it and he liked it and he just kind of stuck with it," said mother Laquon Cargle.

"I did want to do basketball, but I ended up doing wrestling and of course I did football. Just came out to the gymnastics team with no intention, when I first came to high school, but it just kind of rubbed off on me," said Ajani Cargle.

"He has really, really excelled in this. He has really, really shown me that he has the heart, he has the drive, he has the stamina, he is really serious about this, and he wants to go as far as he actually can with it. This requires some major discipline on his behalf, and he has received major recognition," said Laquon Cargle. "What else can he possibly do? You have got the love. You have got the inspiration... I put that in his head every day: 'You can do anything you want to do, and you can have anything you want to have, so go for it, the sky is the limit.'"

Cargle's team won sectionals, and they are hosting the state championship this weekend.

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