Dillon Auvenshine, 18, has tumbled since he was seven. Now, 11 years later, he has reached the highest level of the sport.
Auvenshine, a 2010 Stephenville High School graduate, has been selected to the No. 2 place on the United States men’s tumbling team. He will represent his country in the World Games in Metz, France Nov. 12-16.
Auvenshine, who finished fourth in the Visa Championships in Hartford, Conn. earlier this month, says reaching the world championships is a dream come true.
“I’m really excited. I’m just looking forward to being there,” Auvenshine said. “I’m going to give it my best and that’s all I can ask for.”
Lisa Pack, owner of Texas Twisters Cheer and Tumble in Stephenville, has coached Auvenshine for three years and was with him in Connecticut. Auvenshine says they were eating at an Applebees when they received word he had been selected for worlds.
“We had been waiting all day. We were actually sitting at Applebees and it was like 11 o’clock at night when we got the e-mail,” he said. “My phone was taking a while to open it so Lisa opened it on her phone and she just screamed. That’s when I knew I made it.”
Both Auvenshine and Pack say they were ecstatic in the ensuing moments.
“I’m sure everyone in the restaurant thought we were crazy,” Pack said. “We drove the waitress nuts so we gave her a big tip.”
The excitement carried over to the car ride back to the hotel.
“We were screaming out the windows, ‘We’re going to worlds!’” Pack said.
Auvenshine says he first realized he had a shot at taking his talent to the international level two years ago.
“I realized when I moved up to ‘Elite’ that I was capable of making the next step,” he said. “That definitely gave me the motivation to try some new things that I needed to compete at this level.”
That included tumbling out of double tucks.
“Tumbling out of a double tuck is something I have now that I didn’t have last year,” Auvenshine said. “Adding that was a huge turning point for me.”
Another turning point was last year’s disappointment.
Auvenshine qualified for the 2009 Visa Championships, but was injured and unable to compete. He then struggled at the World Finals Selection Show.
“Last year was good for me because it helped me realize what I had to do to succeed at this level,” he said. “It also helped me get over my fears of doing new things.”
Auvenshine’s success is also a great achievement for Pack’s gym, which has earned numerous national honors but never before sent a competitor to the world championships.
The only other Erath County tumbler to reach that level was Lynn Neagle. The common thread between Auvenshine, Neagle and Pack is they all trained under James Chapman.
“James has been so great for us,” Pack said. “He’s always here to help when I need him. He’s the whole reason I got into this stuff.”
Just like Pack, Auvenshine followed in Chapman’s footsteps, working as a coach at Texas Twisters until leaving for Johns Hopkins Medical School in Maryland right after the Visa Championship.
“Dillon’s great with kids. He’s an awesome motivator and they all love him,” she said. “All of them want to be just like Dillon.”
Auvenshine says coaching is something he will miss a great deal while in school.
“I’ve coached there for three years, ever since I started tumbling there,” he said. “They threw a surprise party for me right before I left (for Maryland), and it was a special time. It was one of the last times I’ll see all the kids together for a while. It was sad, but it was special.”
The parents of Texas Twisters tumblers have banded together to support Auvenshine. They have held fundraisers to help offset travel costs, and surprised him with a welcome home party when he and Pack returned from Connecticut.
“The gym is like one big family,” Pack said. “Everyone helps each other and is there for one another. We all love seeing Dillon and all the kids succeed.”
Auvenshine certainly appreciates the support.
“It’s really special to know that I have a whole community behind me,” he said. “I can’t wait to go and represent myself and Stephenville.”