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She's solid as Stone

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Posted: Saturday, August 18, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 8:43 am, Fri Aug 24, 2012.

COEUR d'ALENE - It's a Monday afternoon and Erin Stone is practicing on the uneven bars. Coach Dave Adlard watches the 18-year-old as she performs parts of a routine.

Sometimes he smiles, others he grimaces and shakes his head. No, that's not right.

He offers instructions to the gymnast each time she finishes piecing together the moves - a front flip, a giant full twist, a handstand, finished off by flying from one bar to the other, and back again.

"C'mon Erin," Adlard says. "It was really good right up until there again. You need to make some speed on that."

Stone listens and nods.

She resumes her place in a short line of girls at Inland Empire Gymnastics Association in Coeur d'Alene, each taking a turn on the uneven bars. This time, Adlard looks puzzled as Stone soars, then lands on the mat below.

"I thought you were going to do the full," he says.

"Oh, you wanted me to?" Stone answers.

Yep, Adlard answers.

So Erin Stone, a gymnast since she was a 2-year-old climbing on the couch at home, goes again.

And again.

And again.

Sometimes she hits it. Sometimes, she doesn't. Either way, she goes again.

Through it all her face remains stoic, her attitude steady, her body language, strong.

"Nice, very good," a happy Adlard says. "Great."

It is clear he expects her to do well, to deliver a steady, solid performance. He knows she can handle his comments, good or bad, without becoming upset, crying, storming off.

"She's one of the easiest, nicest kids I've ever coached," he said.

"If I was a college coach," he adds, "I'd be thrilled to have her on my team."

Moving on

The Lake City School graduate is heading to Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah, where she earned a merit scholarship. While visiting the campus, she checked out the gymnastics team, worked out at a summer camp, and earned a spot there, too.

"They were pretty impressed with her," Adlard said

The Thunderbirds, Adlard said, have a top gymnastics team and outstanding academics program.

"The fact that she's going on brains as well as brawn is pretty impressive," Adlard said.

Stone is looking forward to competing at the college level. Her teammates, she said, are talented, hard working and dedicated. It will raise her game, she adds.

"I never knew if it was possible," she said. "To actually have it work out and happen is very exciting."

Stone's strengths

The Athol man and Ironman has coached Stone since she was 5. Her strength, he says, is her attitude.

"She never gives up," Adlard said.

For example, the 5-5 Stone has always been rock solid on the balance beam and bars. Not so with tumbling and vaulting.

"It wasn't that she wasn't fast enough or strong enough. It was hard to get everything to click consistently," he said.

But improvement came, the reward of hard work and perseverance. The same reasons Stone should shine in college, Adlard said. She's always learning, always improving, always ready to go again.

Under Adlard's guidance, Stone qualified for nationals four times and collected a slew of medals, ribbons and trophies during the course of her career.

"You begin to lose count," Adlard said.

During competition, Stone said calm is her key.

"Essentially, don't think. I tend to overthink. Just relax and do what I always do here in practice."

Stone competed in the 100 and 300-hurdles for Lake City High School, as well as the 4 x 400 and the pole vault. She trains around 20-25 hours a week, has been dual enrolled at North Idaho college the last two years, and has been a tutor, too

She credited her parents, Lee Stone and Janet Doremdorf, for their support and encouragement.

"They've kind of been the reason I've gone to the gym," she said.

Little gymnast

Janet Doremdorf decided gymnastics was what her daughter needed as a toddler.

"She kept climbing over the back of the couch and I got tired of yelling at her," she said, laughing.

"I didn't want her to get hurt. I felt it was important she knew how to jump, roll, protect herself."

It turned out to be just the sport for Erin. There were always challenges, and Erin loves a challenge, her mom said.

"That's what she's good at in life. If things come too easy she doesn't usually like them as well. She likes to work."

Still, the Hayden woman admits she had her doubts early on. She wondered if her shy daughter would be willing to compete in front of judges and crowds.

"I laughed when they wanted to put her in the competitive program because she was so shy."

Goodbye to shy.

Gymnastics gave her daughter confidence. Her mom watched it grow.

"I think in her heart, she knows she can do anything she sets her mind to. She knows if she works at it, it will come"

Lee Stone loves to boast about his daughter. He recalled, too, that she almost learned to walk on the backs of couches.

"I knew from the beginning she had good balance and she was ready to do something in gymnastics," he said. "I'm just floored by what she's done."

Her success, though, isn't really surprising to dad, not after a lifetime of watching her grow up.

"She focuses on everything she does. She has no distractions," Lee Stone said. "She's a very intelligent girl who fixes her sights on something and goes for it."

Now, let's see that front flip and full twist one more time.

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