Bouncing Onto Team USA

Honolulu residents Matt Moniz, 18, and Nani Vercruyssen, 13, just made the U.S. trampoline team and are dreaming of the Olympics one day

Melissa Moniz
Wednesday - January 25, 2006
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Nani and Matt will be on the go with Team USA this year
Nani and Matt will be on the go with Team USA
this year

Just days back from the first ever U.S. Elite Trampoline Team Training Camp held in San Diego, Hawaii gymnasts Nani Vercruyssen and Matt Moniz have much more than missed schoolwork to worry about.

With their first competition of the season scheduled for Feb. 4 at the prestigious Olympic Training Center in Birmingham, Ala., Nani and Matt spend almost all their time out of school training at the Hawaii Academy. Both have done their homework and are completely educated on their competition - a key factor that can mean the difference between winning and losing.

“In this sport, winning is being the best you can be and knowing your competition,” says Dr. Max Vercruyssen, coach at Hawaii Academy in Honolulu, and Nani’s father. “This program is producing elite athletes because they train hard, they are very competitive and also because we do a lot of research about our competitors. We are constantly ranking everyone in the world.”

Nani and Matt have a busy year ahead of them with two competitions in April, one here in Honolulu and another in Belgium. They have competitions in Japan, Canada and Sweden scheduled in May. In June the two gymnasts will be traveling back to San Diego, followed by a trip to Chicago in July. In August, Nani and Matt will travel to Mexico and finish off with the All Japan Elite Championships in October.

Matt soars during practice
Matt soars during practice

Quite a lot of traveling for a 13-year-old and 18-year-old - but they don’t mind. In fact traveling is one of the perks of the sport they most enjoy.

“Traveling is really a great part about the sport. I love meeting people,” says Nani. “Some I keep in touch with by e-mail mostly. And the competition is friendly and fun.”

And while these two may be traveling to foreign countries, they are no strangers to competition.

Matt, a senior at Aiea High School, was the 2004 Level 10 national champion and the 2005 Junior Elite national champion. Nani, a student a Kaimuki Middle School, has won a number of U.S. national championships and became the world champion in the 13-14 age group double-mini this past September at the International Age Group Games. She is currently ranked No. 1 in the U.S. on both double-mini and trampoline.

As part of the 2006 U.S. Elite International Trampoline Teams, Nani and Matt momentarily relinquish their connection with Hawaii and instead represent our nation. It’s an honor that many athletes never have the opportunity to experience.

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