Watford City teen receives encouragement from community to stick with gymnastics and follow his dreams

Local News

A Watford City boy who was a little nervous about doing gymnastics is now in the full swing of things after the community rallied behind him and influenced his ultimate decision.

“It’s a YouTuber named Tanner Braungardt, I just watched his videos and I just really liked it,” Jaxon Scoggins said.

Influenced by the YouTuber’s infamous trampoline flips and cliff jumping, 13-year-old Scoggins took it upon himself to try it out too.

“He made a couple tutorials, you know, it was confusing and scary, but then I just kept going with it and just kept practicing,” Scoggins said

Dedicating years to get the whirling skills down right, he finally became good at it even considering gymnastics, but his fear of what others thought about his passion ultimately held him back.

“The kids at school, they judge a lot so if they would’ve found out about that they would’ve just been messing with me and stuff so that kind of discouraged me so I didn’t want to do it anymore,” he said.

Although it’s not unfamiliar for boys and men to participate in gymnastics, it wasn’t the easiest to get Scoggins’ confidence to do it until his mom took videos of his jaw-dropping talents to Facebook.

“When I saw him do a flip the other day on his new present of a trampoline I said I hate that this is being wasted, so I was like let me see if we can put this on there and get really positive feedback to maybe encourage him to give it another try,” Jaxon’s mom, Leigh Stodola, said.

Scoggins received hundreds of positive messages from folks in the community hoping that he would keep going forward with his talents.

The post even got the attention of the Badlands Gymnastics Club program director.

“He had been in classes a year ago and then kind of disappeared. We don’t usually follow up because that happens. Kids flow in and kids flow out, but then I saw his Facebook post and was like, Jaxon we need to get you back,” Pat McWilliams said.

McWilliams says to get Scoggins’ foot back in the door, he offered him a free gym day and encouraged him to explore the various activities they have to offer.

“We have different levels of classes and my suggestion was for him to do a different stream of classes. One was called ninja classes because I felt it suits his style better,” he said.

McWilliams said he too felt the pressures of joining gymnastics when he first started nearly 50 years ago.

“It’s always been an issue, probably even in the ’70s that was an issue thinking that it was a girly thing and not something for guys because you know in the small towns if you’re a guy, ‘You’re supposed to play football, basketball and run track,'” he said.

But he says those stereotypes are wrong and will argue that gymnastics could possibly offer more physically than most other sports.

“It literally is the foundation of all sports,” McWilliams said.

Scoggins says he’s excited to build his confidence through such a complex sport and is encouraging others to do the same in any fashion.

“I want to be like a stuntman, but if you like football you can go into the NFL or basketball and anything like that, you know, you just have to keep going and gradually you’ll just work your way up into bigger things,” he said.

Scoggins participated in his first gymnastics class Monday night and says he’s looking forward to more classes in the future.

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