~Dance it, Speak it, Poet~

By Jan Drake Bakke


January 2018 Gaylife Newsletter/"Dance it, Speak it, Poet" 

    "History of a Gymnast Part 4"

by Jan Drake Bakke


"The Perfect Jeans" Gymnastics Poem


Gymnastics was me

I took it in naturally

From a child until my teens

I always had to have the perfect jeans!


It was a way of life long ago

The way I started on earth

Life was fast and fabulous

I started seven years after my birth


Gymnastics was ours

With teammates and coaches

And practices hours and hours!

We always made a scene

As I shopped tirelessly

for the perfect jeans!




"Are you Getting the Jist--Part 2 Gymnastics"


Terrific tinsicas totally!

Hippie handsprings hooray!

Wackie walkovers whoo hoo!

Dive cartwheels all day!


Very vaulty and victorious valdez!

Awesome ariels

Effortless and easy

Everyone sayz!


Bars be a blast!

Floor X was so fast

Vault was a rave

Beam was my fave!


Leaps, splits and marching!

Pushups, situps pullups and arching

Back flips, fromt flips and a twist

Gymnastics a go go

Are you getting the jist?



"Breathe in Peace--Happy New Year 2018"


Breathe in pink

Don't let your heart sink

Breathe in blue

God is watching you

Breathe in purple

We always have free will

Breathe out a song

Nothing can go wrong

Breathe in peace

Love will never cease!


I am continuing with the injuries that took place during my gymnastics career.  From 1965 to 1975. All gymnasts who work out for a good length of time will have an injury.  The gymnasts who are competitive and in training rigorously as we were and I was all had them. It is just the nature of the sport. Plus, anyone who works their body to the extreme as in so many sports, artistry and performance will have some kind of injury usually  It does not mean they are life threatening.  Although, some are.  Some gymnasts have broken their necks. I have had several head injuries. I will talk about them now.


We were working on the bars one night in the big gym at UNLV. The Rebels Basketball gymnasium.  This is in Las Vegas, Nevada. At the university. That was our main gym. It was a fun night that night too.  We had a small audience of parents sitting and watching us work out.  Quite often the parents group came to watch us.  Well, we were a well known gym team now in Nevada and the country as well.  We were on the map so to speak for competitive teams working at the national level.  That was such big time for us.


Both my parents were at practice this night. My dad was there alot when he could be.  Coach Jan told my parents I was to be an Olympic gymnast. They took him seriously.  Coach was having us do more Olympic type moves on all apparatus.  This night we were on the bars for this and Coach was just trying to move us along.  He was doing the right thing as a good coach.  The advanced girls whom were all Olympic hopefuls at the time.  Robin Arneson, Diana Carroll, and a few others and I  were working at the bars that night.  Coach had me try this particular move first.  Since I was smaller, lighter and maybe a bit stronger in some ways and it would be easier for Coach to spot me because of all of these reasons. I was the one to try it first then.  I did not mind either. I was ready to go for it. It was a giant or somersault in between the bars. A front somi. The women's uneven parallel bars. I am not sure which move it was.  Both of these are very difficult and dangerous. Yet we were all ready for them.  It was just a matter of trying them. They were Olympic moves at the time that were being done.   Of course Coach would have us try them. At the time I was in primo shape too! 


On that first try though my hands slipped and I fell on the ground on my back and the back of my head.  There was a good mat right there to land on.  It was fine.  Just a jolt for me was all.  It was a tough move and also a bit tricky too to spot.  I went up to try it again and I fell the second time on my back and back of my head.  Oh well!  LOL!! Not so fun but I was ok still.  This was not going to stop us.  My mother winced and screamed a little for both times.  My dad knew this was rough on her to watch.  I think I was about ten years old or maybe eleven.  I went up to try it again for the third time and splat I fell again on my back and back of my head. My mother  was so upset by now. My dad had to calm her down. Coach went over to calm her down too. We were all laughing soon.  Coach told my mother "She is tough Jane!"  My father agreed. Well, she knew that. It was still scary to watch her youngest hit the ground like I was doing so consecutively.  I went up for the fourth time and fell again the same way. This time my mother screamed loudly and begged them to stop this. She said "What are you trying to do to my daughter?"  She was crying. This was getting a little scary and the energy was very intense for me. I went over to her and told her I was ok. I was going to do it one more time. To not worry.  She asked me not to and I said I had to. I had to get this move. I knew I could do it.  I tried for my fifth time and bam I was down again. This time I could not get up. I was dazed. I was dizzy. They had to rush me to the ER at the hospital. I had stitches in my head and a concussion. I was on bed rest for a few days and then back up again.  I was very resilliant. 


We did not try that move ever again.  We did not even talk about it. That was that.  That was what gymnastics training was for an Olympic hopeful. Just what I had to do and thought I was to do. We all did. That was how it was. Well, my father and I felt this way but not my mother.  Yes, I was trying new moves for our team and for the future of the team.  Some of them gave me injuries.  This was one of those times. That is why we were the pioneers of Women's Gymnastics for Las Vegas and the State of Nevada. We paved the way.


I had alot more injuries to come too later and so did many others on the team.  They say football is rough but so is gymnastics.  Jane Kravenko got a broken arm, Faye Gaynor broke her arm, I did too. An gymnast bashed her teeth in twice. Many of us sprained our ankles, feet, or wrists.  We often would rip the skin on our hands too from the bars so we used the grips to cover them. The list goes on. I witnessed severe accidents and injuries at meets and at camps. World Champion Kyle Gaynor and I both broke our legs at the Cathy Rigby Gymnastics Camp one year and we then played gin rummy cards together with our leg casts on while recovering.  it is all very typical to have injuries  in competitive gymnastics.  They  are in every team everywhere!


I am not sure if that fateful night of the bars injury I had was before or after our Junior Olympic Nationals in Knoxville, Tennesee.  We took tenth all around in the nation as I did personally as well in my age group.  We did ok. That is a good standing to have for our team's history and for our state. The Las Vegas Fittettes back in the 1960's.  For all of us on the team as well. Including the coaches and my parents. And all of the parents. 


That is enough for this column and will continue for part 5 next time.  Here are some poems for the new year! I wish you a most happy, delighting, safe, healthy, prosperous, fun, loving, fulfilled, creative, and whatever you may want and need for the new year!! Happy New Year! 2018!!



"Groovin Along"


We blend into a new song

Our hearts of a kind

Some of us didn't belong

But we are still of one mind

Thoz who've touched us deeply

Some who sang a sad song

Love is still with them

As we kept groovin along!



"Love Has No Agenda"


Love has no agenda

Openess has no fear

Victory has no loss

Everlasting has no time and is always near!



"Peace So Tender"


Tradgedy transforms us

Love helps us surrender

Crisis breaks us open

God gives us peace that is so tender!



"More Heart"


Less thinking

More heart

In the center of everything

Less worry and stress

But with more heart and openess!



"Wordz Into Peace"


Speak life over oneself and otherz

Over your sisterz and brotherz

Color thoz wingz of wordz into peace

So fear and resentment will cease!

Wishing you a peaceful scene

In 2018!!




"Happy New Year Poem--Skip"


Dance to the music of your soul!

Sing to the heart beat of your dream!

Skip to the rhythm of your goal!

Run to the distance and scream!  


Happy New Year! 2018!!


Love, Jan





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