Freshman Paige Matthys-Pearce brings dedication and perseverance to Regionals

Revised 4.15.19


Brinda Ambal

Matthys-Pearce shows off a skill she’s been working on to take to the regional competition April 13. Visualization and repetition are tools Matthys-Pearce uses to help her pin down her skills during practice, along with keeping a positive attitude. “I have a script written out that I say of all my mental cues, so I don’t get in my head and worry. I do this in practice too, so it’s the same. I really work to keep it more consistent. I started it this year and have already seen a huge improvement in my consistency,” Matthys-Pearce said. “During the routine I tell myself to just breathe and enjoy it because you don’t get to do gymnastics all your life. It’s a very limited time, so you’ve just got to enjoy it.”

The gym is a blur of activity, a whirlwind of nerves, excitement and raw competition. In the midst of it all, standing proud in a pink and black sparkly leotard, is freshman Paige Matthys-Pearce: winner of the beam, vault and floor events in her age group at the 2019 Missouri State Gymnastics Championships.

Matthys-Pearce began gymnastics at the age of two with once-a-week classes each lasting about an hour. Now she is a Level 8 gymnast and has practice five days a week, each lasting about five hours. To come this far, Matthys-Pearce has relied on perseverance.

I persevered. I knew that I really wanted to get it, so I dedicated all my time and effort inside and outside of the gym to perfecting it and getting my mind ready to do it. It took a lot of visualization, and it taught me to never ever give up on what I want because it can happen.”

— Paige Matthys-Pearce

“There’s a skill that I was trying to get for three years. Sometimes I could do it and sometimes I couldn’t, and I kind of got a mental block on it,” Matthys-Pearce said. “But, I persevered. I knew that I really wanted to get it, so I dedicated all my time and effort inside and outside of the gym to perfecting it and getting my mind ready to do it. It took a lot of visualization, and it taught me to never ever give up on what I want because it can happen.”

Matthys-Pearce’s family also embodies this commitment, evident in the sacrifices they make to support her passion.

“We travel to out of town meets, have a carpool for practice five days a week, have dinner at 9 p.m. when she gets home after practice and get up at 7 a.m. on Saturday mornings year-round for practice,” Paige’s mother Patti Mattys-Pearce said. “However, by now, the schedule doesn’t feel like a sacrifice as much as a regular routine that we are happy to support. Paige always seems to look forward to practice, and I think if she could practice more, she would.”

One of Paige’s main reasons for loving gymnastics is her affinity for perfection. She will work on a skill over and over to get it right in practice so that in competition she has overcome her nerves about any given skill.

“I am a perfectionist, and, in gymnastics, you have to be really precise; I love that about it. I really just like trying new skills and figuring out how to make it better every time,” Paige said. “I love performing for people, but it’s a challenge for me because sometimes, under pressure, I used to get really shaky, especially on the beam, but now I’ve managed to control myself and get in the zone to get out of my comfort zone a little.”

Courtesy of Paige Matthys-Pearce
Matthys-Pearce competes in the beam event at a gymnastics meet, performing her skills to boost her score.

However, when Paige does make a mistake, she has learned to adapt this perfectionist attitude to suit her competition needs.
“One interesting reaction that has served Paige well when she makes mistakes is that she almost always bounces back right away and then perfects the remaining elements in the routine,” Paige’s father Andy Matthys-Pearce said. “One time she fell off the beam [in competition], and it looked really bad, but she was back on the beam in two seconds and proceeded to really rock the rest of the routine [to get] a 9.0 [out of ten]. It was cool to see her release her inner resilience.”

With her competitive team reduced to four members from a previous 20, Paige has realized that gymnastics is a sport you have to love to stick with and will bring this message with her when she competes at regionals April 13 in Bettendorf, IA.

“It took a lot of work [to get here], and it takes just enjoying it,” Paige said. “My main goal [for regionals] is just to have fun, enjoy the moment and do my personal best with what I have. Yeah, winning is fun, but it’s showing what I put in at practice that is the best.”

Paige placed fifth in beam, third in floor, second in vault, first in bars, and first all-around at the USA Gymnastics Regional Championships in Bettendorf, IA on April 13. She hit a new personal best with her floor score.

“One thing that I attribute my success to is my mindset going into the competition. My teammate and I decided we would have a party in every event and that helped get rid of any stress that we might have had,” Paige said. “All the hard work I put in this season like refining the little details throughout the season led up to this point.”