By Starrla Cray
HOWARD LAKE, MN Nine-year-old Daryn Strub leaps through the air a back handspring here, an aerial cartwheel there a seemingly effortless flow of strength and motion.
He performs his gravity-defying moves anywhere and everywhere, from his living room north of Howard Lake to the aisles of stores.
Daryn hopes to someday become an Olympic gymnast, and with his talent, it’s a goal that many believe isn’t too far out of reach.
“According to people we’ve talked to, he’s got more ability than they’ve seen in long time,” said Daryn’s father, Kurt.
Ever since Daryn could walk, he’s been astounding people with his natural abilities.
“He could get on the refrigerator when he was a year old,” Kurt said.
“We should have known,” laughed his mother, Tracy.
Despite the signs, however, the family never suspected that they’d have a gymnast on their hands.
Daryn’s older brothers, Dustin, 13, and Matt, 15, are involved in baseball and football, and no one in the family had ever participated in gymnastics.
But, Daryn continued to be drawn to flips, tucks, and springs.
“He’s been doing cartwheels since he was about 4 years old,” Tracy said.
“He’d do them up and down the steps,” Kurt added.
Kurt and Tracy didn’t immediately enroll Daryn in gymnastics classes, however.
“Boys programs are few and far between,” Tracy said. Plus, the family thought that perhaps Daryn’s love of gymnastics was simply a phase.
As time went on, Daryn’s skills and passion got stronger, however. Daryn kept asking his parents if he could take a class, and people who saw Daryn’s talent insisted that he needed formal training, as well.
In September 2006, Daryn started out at a beginner’s class through community education.
“He was very bored,” Tracy said.
Daryn then skipped a few levels, but that still didn’t help. The coach told the Strubs that she wasn’t able to teach him anything more.
Eventually, in September 2008, the Strubs found a place called John Tobler’s Gymnastics in Hastings. The instructor only taught girls, but made a special exception for Daryn.
Unfortunately, the facility closed down in May 2009.
“Here we were, stuck again,” Tracy said.
Then, the Strubs found North Shore Gymnastics in Maple Plain, the place Daryn currently practices 10 hours each week.
“The other place closing was a blessing in disguise,” Tracy said. “It forced us to look at other options.”
Daryn had never used gymnastics equipment such as rings and high bars, but he caught on quickly. His coaches, Dale Bullivant and Craig “Andy” Anderson, started him off at Level 5, whereas most children would start at Level 1.
Since then, Daryn has participated in four competitive meets, three of which were at the University of Minnesota. Typically, it takes a few years for a gymnast to place at these meets, Tracy said, but Daryn won several medals and ribbons at each meet.
Daryn said his favorite two events are vault and high bar and he’s won first place in both.
“He just continues to amaze the coaches,” Tracy said.
Daryn hopes to be chosen for an elite gymnastics program in Colorado Springs, CO.
“It’s decided by how good your skills are,” he said.
During one of his meets, Daryn got to meet three-time Olympic gymnast John Roethlisberger. Daryn said he dreams of becoming like Roethlisberger, someday.
For now, Daryn continues to enjoy practicing gymnastics wherever and whenever he can.
One place Daryn loves to perform is on the sidelines during his brothers’ baseball games.
“It distracts the other team,” Dustin laughed.
More about the Strubs
All three Strub children attend the Maple Lake School District.
Tracy works at Dura Supreme in Howard Lake, and Kurt is a building contractor.
Tracy is a graduate of Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School and a former Howard Lake princess. Tracy’s parents, Dan and Connie Laney, live in Howard Lake.
To learn more about Daryn’s gymnastics journey, go to a blog Tracy started, at www.strubs.blogspot.com.