You might call Brooke Anderson superstitious.
Before every major gymnastics meet, Anderson insists on going through the same routine.. The Cranston West senior mentally prepares for the meet ahead by taking an hour long hot shower to calm her nerves. She then must put on the specific pair of old, white socks and her favorite sneakers – a beat up pair of white Vans.
Although Anderson was the top seed going into the state high school gymnastics championship – the favorite to win it all – she refused to deviate from her strict ritual.
So before she left her Cranston home to go to the state championship meet, Anderson washed away her anxiety and put on her lucky sneakers. Calm, confident and comfortable in her worn out Vans, she headed to Rhode Island College to compete for what would be her final shot at a state title.
But wearing her lucky socks and sneakers had nothing to do with the state title Anderson recently claimed at RIC. Hard work, dedication, determination and endless hours spent training in the gym were the factors that led her to perhaps her best performance of the season. She turned in the best all around score of the day – 37.375 and reached a goal that had eluded her since she first put on a West uniform as a freshman. She was crowned the state all around champ.
“It genuinely means so much to me, I have been doing gymnastics for my entire life and winning states was just the perfect way to cap off my senior season,” said Anderson. “I feel so accomplished and (feel) like the work has actually paid (off) in a way that is physical and monumental.”
“She he is an incredible, focused, well balanced, smart kid,” said Cranston West coach Tayna Forti, manager of Cranston’s Dream Big Gymnastics. “She is dedicated to anything she puts her mind to. The hardest working kid and so humble.”
Anderson, who has been competing in gymnastics since she was in kindergarten, trains and competes at Aim High Gymnastics in East Greenwich. One of just a few Level 9 gymnasts in Rhode Island, Anderson’s success has not come without hard work. She trains five days, 20 hours a week. An honor roll student, she works equally as hard in the classroom.
“I wasn’t a naturally talented gymnast, so my teammates were always getting stuff easier than me and I absolutely had to put work in,” said Anderson. “It’s a lot on me. Before everybody was progressing and I was just stuck. It was like that throughout my whole career. But now I’ve learned what works for me and what doesn’t work for me. So I know the work I have to put in.”
So what works? She’s powerful and strong and has brought those traits, along with her experience, to the Cranston West team, a young program that was established during Anderson’s freshman year.
“I always wanted to compete in a sport in high school, but all I ever did was gymnastics,” said Anderson. “That was my focus. I wasn’t going to learn a new sport when I got to high school, so I was so happy when they formed a team my freshman year.”
Although they had a very small squad and earned very few wins, Anderson loved competing for West, which she said was a lot less demanding than her club program.
“The overall energy (is different). There is a lot less pressure on me because I know I have a team behind me, “ she said. “(On the club team) you compete as an individual and it’s based on four scores, but you have teammates to fall back on and to rely on in high school gymnastics.”
She loves the friendships and bond she has created with her Falcon teammates.
“There is definitely more camaraderie on the high school team than on my club team. Even though I am very close to my club team and we get along very well, it’s just such a competitive sport and such an individual sport you don’t feel that camaraderie you do on a high school team,’ said Anderson.
While she loved competing with the Falcons, the road to becoming the state all-around gymnastics champion had its twists and turns. Her freshman year was cut short due to COVID and she was injured most of her sophomore year. She labeled her junior year as a “lackluster year. I focused more on club gymnastics and my grades.”
Her junior season ended with conflict in her schedule that forced to miss the state meet.
“It’s been a little up and down, but I feel like I have gotten to a point where I am pretty consistent and am happy where I am,” said Anderson.
The Cranston West captain proved that this year winning the all-around title at the state meet with a score of 37.375. She won the bars (9.55), took second on the vault (9.6) and fifth on the beam (9.075) and on floor (9.150).
“After you finish a routine and know you have landed a good routine, there’s no better feeling than that.” said Anderson . “I knew it was my last chance to show myself off and show what I’ve worked for so I was very happy with what I did.
Anderson is hoping her success will attract more gymnasts to join the Falcon program.
“It was so much fun (competing for West),” said Anderson. “I really hope they have a bigger team next year. I’m hoping this win will bring some light to it so more people will join the team.”