It's a sport that takes hours of practice and constant dedication and that hard work has paid off for three local gymnasts.
Senior Josie Bergstrom, and sophomores Maeve Boetel and Kit Peltier are gymnasts at V.I.P. Gymnastics in North Sioux City. Each has qualified to compete at the 2021 National Championships.
"The season started in January and we weren't actually sure if we would be able to have a season this year, which we were thrilled to compete because last year it got taken away from us," Bergstrom said. This is her 3rd trip to Nationals after COVID-19 canceled the season in 2020.
V.I.P. competes in Region 4, which consists of seven states. Bergstrom, Boetel and Peltier will compete for Region 4 in Daytona Beach, Florida in May.
"I train here 4 days a week for 4 hours and I drive about an hour and a half each way," Bergstrom is from Hull, Iowa and will continue her gymnastics career at the University of Iowa in the Fall.
"I actually started gymnastics when I was 6 years old," she said "I was at a small rec gym in Northwest Iowa. I always watched the college gymnastics on TV and thought it was so cool."
Boetel is a sophomore from Sioux Falls, S.D. and spends countless hours on the road each week to train at V.I.P.
"I started when I was 8 because of the 2021 Olympics and my sister was in gymnastics," she said. "I really like the friends I've made in gymnastics and being able to compete what you've been working on and how hard it is, but also how rewarding it is."
Peltier is also a sophomore and makes the drive from Canton, S.D. four days a week to V.I.P.
"I started gymnastics when I was 7 because I saw it at the Olympics and it looked really fun," she said, "the support from my teammates and landing the routine you've been working on forever."
The three will compete in the vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise. Each event requiring its own skillset.
"I love all of the events. I love completing all of them," Bergstrom said. "they all give a different thrill, I guess you could say."
The trio leaves May 13th for Daytona Beach with the championships taking place May 14th-16th.
SEE THE VIDEO
They have a mission to build infertility awareness, shed stigma, and advocate for treatment access and Sunday, Conceive Nebraska kicked off a week of events for National Infertility Awareness Week.
Megan Gifford is the President of Conceive Nebraska and for her, this is more than just an awareness week. It's a time to bring a community together, to educate family and friends, work toward better healthcare coverage and let those fighting in silence, know that they are not alone.
"It gets that information out there to so many individuals and to show that we are not alone in this," Gifford said. "It means a lot to so many people to show that there is a community out there for you. That we are here to support you. That there is somebody that understands what you are going through and cares what you are going through."
Conceive Nebraska and their national partner organization Resolve, work year-round to bring awareness to infertility. They recently celebrated a milestone, when Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts signed a proclamation recognizing infertility awareness. This comes ahead of a bigger advocacy day, on June 17th.
"Even if you are not going through the struggle with infertility, just knowing somebody with it and writing a letter to your representatives of knowing how important getting that support and getting that information out there," Gifford said. "Just having so many people out there to support us with that is just a benefit."
Siouxland News Reporter: "If someone takes away one thing from this, what do you hope that is?"
"That they are not alone," Gifford said, choking up, "That they are not alone. That there is a community out there to support them. That we are here. There are so many people out there that know what you are going through and here to support you."
SEE THE VIDEO
This last school year has been hard for many kids and summer break usually been a reprieve from classroom time, but one summer activity could actually help your child prepare for fall.
One of the Tri-State's largest summer camps is preparing for another successful and exciting season as the Norm Waitt Sr. YMCA gears up to welcome a few hundred local kids for their 8-week camp.
"We are planning some academics to really cover that summer learning loss in the mornings and then we have some great field trips lined up.," said the Y's program coordinator Jalisa Ottken.
The Y's annual summer camp has it all, from academic activities like science, technology, and math, to field trips, activities, games, and everything in between. All in an effort to prevent the summer learning loss kids experience over the summer months.
For the Y's camp organizers, they have the added planning of COVID-19 protocols for staff and campers, something they had to do last season a well.
"There are a few CDC recommendations in place that we are going to keep, the social distancing, wearing your masks, students and staff," Ottken said.
Summer camps don't just help with the summer learning loss, they also provide kids with many other skills that they need to excel later on in life.
"Many summer camps offer different activities. So not just intellectual where they are stimulating their minds, but also learning different things that they may never come into contact with within school."
Rashel Bark is the clinical manager at Siouxland Mental Health. She says summer camps, whether they are summer long, week, long, or day camps, can help kids of all ages and abilities grow as individuals in ways they don't while at school.
"Children learn by play," Bark said. "So it's a wonderful thing for them to be able to be in a less structured environment where it's still having some routine and some guidance, but it's not so structured like a school day setting because it really allows them to have some flexibility and freedom and creativity in their day and that produces a whole other set of skills."
After a hectic and sometimes unpredictable school year, summer camp can help kids prepare to return to class in the fall.
"It's really important because we don't want to see kids lagging behind in areas," Bark said. "It can cause long-term implications, both in their academic careers and their socializations later on in life and the way they build friendships."
Summer activities like camp can introduce kids to others outside of their usual group of friends, expanding their social circle and knowledge of others.
"It's really important for kids to get out there and be able to learn in a way that is meaningful to them," Bark said. "Connect with people that they may never get to connect with. And have opportunities to enjoy activities that they may never get exposed to except through a summer camp. It really increases all of their skills socially and academically in every direction."
For the Y, that's the goal, along with having a lot of fun.
"I'm just excited to meet all of the kids and get the program rolling and off the ground," said youth program director Lucas Briggs. He, along with all of the staff at the Y, is counting down the days until they can welcome their campers back for a summer of learning, growing, and most importantly, fun.
SEE THE VIDEO
"Thank you for being here on her birthday."
Nearly 30 years after her murder, FBI and local authorities are still trying to find out who killed 19-year-old Tammy Haas in September of 1992.
Her mother, Nancy, joined authorities from South Dakota and the FBI Tuesday on her daughter's birthday, hoping someone will come forward with answers.
"Law enforcement has been trying to unravel the mystery since then. Theories have come and gone. Tips and leads that seem promising, have turned hopeless," Yankton Police Commander Todd Brandt said.
FBI Minneapolis and the Yankton Police Department have announced a $15,000 reward for information that will help uncover exactly how she died and who killed her. Today, April 13th, would have been her 48th birthday.
The FBI and Yankton Police Department continue to investigate and believe the reward may cause people to come forward with information.
Leads and tips that have seemed promising have not led to new information.
“We know there has been uncertainty since that September of 1992, but we do have some certainty, that is, that someone, someone out there knows, has information about what happened to Tammy,” said Michael Paul, the FBI special agent in charge of the Minneapolis field office which serves Minnesota, South Dakota and other states.
Tammy Haas was from Yankton and attended a homecoming party with her boyfriend on Sept. 18th, 1992 at a farmhouse across the river in Cedar County, Nebraska. Her body was found five days later in a ravine not far from the farmhouse where the party was at. Her boyfriend was eventually arrested and tried on Manslaughter 3rd degree in Cedar County but was found not guilty.
In March 2020, her gravesite was vandalized, leading authorities to believe that someone in the area may have knowledge about the case.
"What's changed is that nothing has changed, we're still fighting for the answers of what happened to Tammy," Brandt said. "Graciously the FBI has put up some money to hopefully jog some memories that have been held for many years but nothing has changed, we're still steadfast in the investigation."
Brandt and Paul credit Tammy's mother Nancy with her strength and determination, working with them for nearly 30 years to bring her daughter justice.
"That's the unknown question and again, it all goes back to Nancy as a parent and grieving this for this many years without having all of the facts and the truth," Brandt said. "We have known the mannerism in which she died, but we don't know at whose hands that was."
For now, Tammy's loved ones continue on, honoring the young woman they lost too soon.
"It's been pretty emotional. As a mother myself, I can't imagine not having answers or knowing what happened," Arnette Heimen said. She was the Haas' neighbor as Tammy was growing up. "She was just so sparkly, you know. Always wanting to have fun. I don't have daughters of my own but she was so full of life. But it's to see that she, all these years, has been gone. It's hard."
Anyone with information about this event is asked to contact the FBI’s Sioux Falls office at 605-334-6881, the Yankton Police Department at 605-668-5210 or online at tips.fbi.gov.
SEE THE VIDEO
Web articles from my time at Siouxland News.