Balancing In

By CURTIS J. PHILLIPS, Connect Weekly

Thirteen-year-old gymnast of Fort McMurray, Shaela Welte, will be competing on August 10 and 11 at MacDonald Island.

Thirteen-year-old gymnast of Fort McMurray, Shaela Welte, will be competing on August 10 and 11 at MacDonald Island. PHOTO: Curtis J. Phillips.

Years ago when Robert and Dorothy Welte took their toddler Shaela to the local park, she would roll down hills, climb trees and attempt tricks on the various playground apparatuses. They needed something extra for their hyperactive tot, so they registered her in gymnastics.

Now at 13, Shaela Welte is more than contented that they selected gymnastics in that she has vaulted into a position on Team Alberta‘s artistic gymnastics team competing at the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games (WCSG).

“I was really hyper as a kid,” reinstated Shaela. “So when I was five, my parents put me in gymnastics (Norfort Gymnastics Association) and it appears that they were right.”

Her earliest memory of gymnastics is that of persistence.

“I was six or seven and we had these mats that help us learn how to do cartwheels,” recalls Shaela, who attends École McTavish School Junior High Public School. “I kept at it and at it and I wasn’t leaving the gym until I could do it. When it was time to go, I still had not done a cartwheel. I left screaming and crying.”

Of her gymnastics role models growing up, Shaela stayed local with her inspiration being Chantelle Altares.

“She was the highest gymnast that I knew when I was little and I wanted to be like her so badly and compete at a high-level competition like her,” recalled Shaela of Altares, who comes from a sporting family with her sisters

Catherine and Claire, along with brother Clayton and their father Ruel, playing major roles in local sports be it through their own athletic accomplishments or development of sport. Altares is still a coach at Norfort, which has recently seen a change with a new head coach and program director with Nancy Luttrell and Yves Hauglustaine respectively.

“It was a little bit transitioning, but now it is super good and I love my coaches,” said Shaela.

Of the fact that the 2015 WCSG are being held in her hometown; “It’s kind of pressuring being from Fort McMurray and it being held in Fort McMurray. But it is also cool and inspires me to represent Fort McMurray and Alberta.”

Shaela also dabbles in school plays, “In gymnastics, you are up there yourself with a lot of people watching. On stage, it is also the same…. (they) both give you confidence.”

Of her future goals in gymnastics, she shared: “I have a back injury right now, so I don’t know how much longer I can compete. I really want to become a coach. I want to see little girl’s faces like when I was a little and help them achieve their dreams.”

Also part of the Team Alberta artistic gymnastics squad is local gymnasts Calle Inkster and Allison Mulhall.

– Connect Weekly –