When Mia Ritchie first made Broomfield’s gymnastics team as a freshman, she found her outlet, her community during a time when COVID-19 stripped those from many people.
Then it took her passion away from her.
Just days before the state meet her first year, Ritchie — who attends Peak to Peak — was exposed to someone who had the virus. She had to sit out of the coveted meet, watching it from home with her dad instead. Two years later, following that heartbreak of watching her teammates lose out on the team title by 0.475 points, she’s not only become the team leader. She became their best performer at state.
At the final meet last month, Ritchie excelled in the meet that was Broomfield’s for the taking, placing fourth in the all-around with a 36.825, just 1.5 points behind the all-around state champion. She then competed in the individual finals, nabbing fifth in beam (9.225), fifth in floor (9.525) and 12th in vault (9.275).
Her performance and leadership helped launch the Eagles to their second-straight team championship. For that, and her growth from freshman year, Ritchie was name the Daily Camera gymnast of the year.
Just two years earlier, she competed with junior varsity as a varsity alternate.
“It’s kind of crazy just to look back at it but it was really exciting,” Ritchie said. “I never thought I would make it that far. My goal was just to make it to individual state for one event this year. Last year, I didn’t make it. I think I placed like 17th on the floor. I just barely missed the cut-off. And so this year, my goal was just to make it and going in, I think placing fifth on floor and then like fourth on vault or something like that … It was just a full circle moment. I was like, ‘Wow, these past few years, it’s finally all come together and I finally pulled it off.’”
Her head coach Mark Bogoger, who moved up from assistant coach this year, never doubted her. He believes that had she been able to compete at state her freshman year, the Eagles may very well be three-time state champions by now.
“Day one, she walked in with a lot of talent. That was obvious,” Bogoger said. “She’s just got a lot of natural ability in gymnastics and that was obvious on the first day, when I first started doing gymnastics. I think what served her the best is she’s incredibly hard-working on top of that. She’s dedicated and driven and hardworking, and so she’s just gotten better and better. Gymnastics is as much mental if not more than it is physical. There’s a lot of challenges with overcoming fears and hesitations.”
Ritchie knew that better than anyone, so she took it upon herself to help assuage the doubts of her teammates when she took over as team leader this year. The younger girls clearly responded well, as they collectively defeated second-place Mountain Range by 2.55 points.
She used her own freshman year experience, however unusual it may have been, and incorporated that into her message to the team.
“Coming into this year, my main goal was just, I want us to feel more comfortable as a team together,” Ritchie said. “I want it to be a more uplifting environment. That was a great team too (last year) and we had a lot of fun at practice, but I wanted it to be more like everyone was friends with everyone, because we still had lost that through COVID.”
Clearly, the ladies responded quite well to that message. And they still have another year of leadership under Ritchie.