Team USA qualifier coaches son to state gymnastics title

Chris Young working with his son Skylar Young at Salem Gymnastics.

Team USA qualifier coaches son to  state gymnastics title
March 17
10:47 2022

For years Salem Gymnastics has produced gymnasts that have gone off to do great things at the college level and beyond. One of the first to do that was Chris Young, who went on to attend the University of Minnesota and qualify for the USA Olympic Team. Now Young, who is a coach at Salem Gymnastics, is getting the opportunity of a lifetime – coaching his son Skylar. 

Young was introduced to gymnastics when he was nine years old through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and was immediately hooked. He said although he excelled in other sports like football and basketball, gymnastics is what he loved. “Ron Brown with Big Brothers Big Sisters saw me doing backflips in my backyard and brought me out to Salem Gymnastics and the rest is history,” Young said. 

“Once I started doing gymnastics, I knew that was it for me. I got to travel the country, which led to me getting to travel the world.”

During his junior year of high school at West Forsyth, Young was being recruited for his talent on the football field, but after he tore his ACL, he stopped playing football and focused solely on gymnastics. A year later, Young received a scholarship to the University of Minnesota. 

In 1997 Young earned a spot on the USA National Team and in 1999 he qualified for the World Championship Team. Six months before the Olympic trials, Young suffered another devastating injury. “So I got to compete at Olympic trials, but I probably needed about another month and I would’ve been on the Olympic team, but God had other plans,” Young said. 

Since becoming a coach at Salem Gymnastics, Young has helped dozens of student-athletes earn scholarships and hundreds more fall in love with gymnastics, including his seven-year-old son Skylar. 

With this being Skylar’s first year competing, Young said he’s still trying to learn how to find the balance between being dad and coach, but he has enjoyed every moment of it. “I’m still learning, but he’s kept me pretty grounded in that sense because everything I throw at him he’s stepped up to it, so it’s been great,” said Young when discussing coaching his son.

Having to refer to his father as “Coach” instead of “Dad” when they’re in the gym has been a learning process for Skylar as well, but he said he’s learned a lot from his “coach-dad” and that’s where he gets his confidence. 

“I’ve seen him do a front-flip, a backhand spring, I’ve seen him do a backflip on the trampoline, and I’ve seen him on YouTube in the ‘90s doing the pommel horse … it’s pretty much what I’ve always seen him do,” Skylar continued. “And when I saw him do it, I thought maybe I can do that someday and I’ve been jumping on the trampoline since I’ve known about them.” 

Heading into the state meet a few weeks ago, Skylar said he was excited to compete on the grand stage. He was equally excited to cheer on his teammates who were also competing. 

“It was really exciting at the state meet. I really wanted to see what it was like to see other teams and see our team compete against them,” Skylar continued. “I know it’s an individual sport, but I love to cheer my teammates on.” 

In his first time competing in the statewide gymnastics competition, Skylar finished first in the pommel horse event and third all-around for his age group. He also earned the opportunity to compete in the regional meet. 

Despite finding early success, Skylar is still putting in the work to perfect his craft. Just a few days after the state competition, Skylar was already back in the gym. In addition to regionals, Skylar is also working on his trampoline routine for Future Stars, an accelerated development and education program for young gymnasts sponsored by USA Gymnastics. 

“I know Future Stars is going to be a big meet,” Skylar said. 

Although Skylar does have the full support of his father, his mother, Arien Young, who is also a coach at Salem Gymnastics, and the rest of his family, Young said they don’t pressure Skylar to compete. 

“I want him to be a kid … there’s no pressure from us. If he said tomorrow, ‘Dad, I think I want to quit,’ I would say OK. As long as he says it’s something he wants to do, we will support him.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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