Far from driving the family apart with a demanding practice and performance schedule, 10-year-old Meghan Greene's gymnastics career has provided opportunities for her to travel with her parents and two younger brothers.
"We go to a lot of different places," Meghan said. "We've been to Charleston, Tampa Bay and Indianapolis, and we do fun things there. If I didn't do gymnastics we probably wouldn't go to those places."
Meghan's dedication and hard work - she practices three hours a day, five days a week - paid off this weekend when she placed third best all around for her for her skill level, which won her a spot as one of eight girls to represent Tennessee in regional competition in Atlanta next month.
"She was really excited and happy," her father, Catoosa County Commission Chairman Keith Greene, said. "And her mother and I are very excited and proud of her. She has worked very hard."
Meghan has won the top spot at her skill level each year for the past four years, starting with level five. At 10, she is one of the youngest gymnasts to be a level 8, her coach, Adam Byrd said.
"A lot depends on the individual child," said Mr. Bryd, owner of Chattanooga Center for Gymnastics. "But it's mostly 11- or 12-year-olds at level eight."
Meghan has studied gymnastics since she was 18 months, her mother, Kathleen Greene, said.
"She stopped for a while when she was 3," Mrs. Green said.
It is a challenge to keep up with Meghan's practice and travel schedules, Mrs. Greene said, but it has become a process over the years. She and Mr. Greene make it rule not to make the boys, Brenden, 7, and Sean, 3, sacrifice because of her schedule, she said.
"We have to be real flexible but it really isn't a hardship," Mrs. Greene said. "We have a great support system with the gym, it's like a second family."
After the weekend's Women's Optional State Championships at the Chattanooga Convention Center, Meghan will compete in Atlanta in April. Meghan also placed first at her level in the separate categories of floor, bar, vault and beam routines.
The word optional refers to the type of routine the gymnasts perform, Mr. Bryd said. Up until level 5, the gymnast performs a specific set of skills. At level 6 and beyond, the gymnast performs a routine choreographed by the coach, Mr, Bryd said.
Though chatty at practice session last week at the Center for Gymnastics in Ooltewah, Meghan turned shy after the competition Saturday, her dad said.
"I asked her if she wanted to (comment) but she didn't want to," he said.