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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 31, 2008

Goodknights soldier through the Games

By Saranac Hale Spencer

BINGHAMTON — Each with a tight, blonde bun, Brenda and Kara Goodknight made the rotation of gymnastics’ events at the Empire State Games last week.

Both mother and daughter named the uneven bars among their favorites.  “It’s just kind of fun to swing around up there,” said Brenda Goodknight, a gymnastics coach who took home three silver medals and bronze for her performance in the masters’ division.

She took up gymnastics at the age of 8, with her aunt, said Goodknight, and she started her youngest daughter when she was 3.  “Kara always got dragged to the gym,” she said of her fourth child, who is now 15 and competed in the scholastic division at the games.

Until she was 9, Kara’s coach was her mother.  “When she was really little, it was fun,” Brenda Goodknight said with a chuckle.  “They take direction better.”

She liked teaching her daughter the basics, Goodknight said, but now she steps back and doesn’t offer her thoughts until asked, she said.  “It’s really hard sometimes.”

Kara spends about 20 hours a week at the gym, she guessed, and she likes “the adrenaline rush” that comes with competition.  At the Empire State Games, the only meet in which both she and her mother both participate, “We cheer each other on,” Kara said.

For most of the over-40 gymnasts, this is the only meet in which they can compete, compared to the dozen or so meets held annually for scholastic-age athletes, Goodknight said, adding, “You wouldn’t believe how competitive the over-40 is.”

Of fitting in preparation time for the event among her regular coaching schedule, Goodknight said, “You have to train smarter, not harder, when you get older.”

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