Thornton Twisters Gymnastics Team

Here you will learn more about our team program. If you have any questions please contact the Gymnastics Specialist, Susan Ludwig, at 720-977-5935 or susan.ludwig@ThorntonCO.gov.


What is TEAM Gymnastics?
The City of Thornton Gymnastics program competes in the Colorado Association of Recreation Athletics (CARA) gymnastics league. This statewide league is designed to allow recreational gymnasts to compete in a safe and FUN atmosphere with other gymnasts of the same level. Our team name is Thornton Twisters.


The CARA gymnastics league differs from the nation-wide USA Gymnastics (USAG) program offered at private gymnastics clubs in several important ways:

  • The CARA gymnastics league requires less of a time commitment than a USAG program. Beginning level team gymnasts in a CARA program typically practice 4-6 hours per week compared to 9-16 hours per week in a USAG program.

  • CARA competes in Colorado only and USAG competes nationally.

  • CARA competitors have 4-6 meets per season compared to 6-10 in USAG.

  • CARA competition season is April-July, USAG Compulsories are Aug-Dec and Optionals are Jan-May.

Participating in a recreational gymnastics program allows your child to be involved in other sports and activities outside the gym. You’ll also notice that the cost of a recreational gymnastics program is far less than that of a USAG private program.


What LEVEL is my daughter?
CARA Gymnastics has two divisions, compulsory and optionals. The compulsory division has two levels, Compulsory 3 and Compulsory 4. The optionals division has five levels, Optional 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. As a new member of the Thornton Twister Team your daughter is probably going to compete as a Compulsory Level 3. This is the beginning level of competitive team in the CARA league.

Gymnasts will begin learning their competitive routines in January. Once at the team level it typically takes 1-2 years to move to the next level.

In the compulsory division, all of the gymnasts compete the same routine on each event. This includes gymnasts from other teams. The compulsory Level 4 routine is a progression from Level 3 and is designed to prepare gymnasts for their optional level skills. Optional level gymnasts perform unique routines that differ from everyone else in the competition on each event. Optional routines must fill requirements set by the National Federation of State High School Association. The level of difficulty in an optional routine determines at what level (1-5) the optional gymnast will compete.

What LEVEL is my son?
CARA Gymnastics has an active boy's league for ages 7-18. There are several levels within boys team: 1, 2 and 3. As a new member of the Thornton Twister Team, your son will most likely compete as a Level 1. This is the beginning level of competitive team in the CARA Boys league.

Gymnasts will begin learning their competitive routines in January. Therefore, final placement within the team levels happens in December. Once at the team level it typically takes 1-2 years to move to the next level.


The gymnastics team will practice all year! We break our year up into three different sections:

  1. September – December: During this time, your daughter will be learning new skills and perfecting the ones she already has. Strength and flexibility is our focus.

  2. January – April: We begin teaching routines in January during clinics held outside the normal practices. Most gymnasts are comfortable with their routine on all four events by the end of March and may otherwise require some private lessons. There will be some skill development and mastering of skills during this time. Memorization of routines is our main focus.

  3. May – July: This is our competition season. Little time will be spent on strength, except what is assigned during event rotations. Your daughter will work on her routines at every practice.


Gymnastics Practices

  • Attend practices regularly and on time.

  • There are NO make-ups at the team level.

  • Dress properly – leotards REQUIRED and hair pulled back (including bangs).


Gymnastics Meets
CARA Gymnastics season consists of six competitions: four regular season meets, one Regional meet and one State meet. During the regular season meets, any gymnast who obtains the regional qualifying score for their level and event will be invited to compete in the Regional meet. At the Regional meet, the top six gymnasts in each age group on each event will move on to the STATE competition.

  • For both the Regional and State meets it is possible for a gymnast to qualify and compete on only one or two events.
  • If you daughter obtains the qualifying all-around score, but does not qualify on each individual event she will be invited to compete all events at the regional meet.

Meets are typically held on Saturdays at various recreation centers and high schools throughout Colorado. A single session meet lasts approximately 3-4 hours from start to end. *We will not know the meet schedule until the end of March.


We have an open communication policy between gymnasts, parents and coaches. If any concerns or questions should arise, please contact a member of our coaching staff immediately. We are happy to listen to you and do our best to help. We strongly encourage you to pick your child up in the gymnastics room and address any questions or concerns directly with the coach involved at that time. Please be considerate of coaches’ schedules (most coaches teach back-to-back classes); if your discussion is going to be lengthy you may need to schedule a time to talk at a later day/time. You may also email or phone the Gymnastics Specialist at susan.ludwig@ThorntonCO.gov or 720-977-5935.
Email is the major source of communication. You may receive emails from the Gymnastics Specialist, and the Twister Booster Club (TBC) so be sure to keep you us updated on your current email addresses. In addition, every team member has a “mailbox” (file folder). It is important that your gymnast checks her mailbox frequently (after every practice), as this is another source of communication between you and Thornton Twister Gymnastics.
The team coaches hold a mandatory team parent meeting in January to answer questions, size for uniforms and give updated information. It is crucial that one parent from each family attend this meeting. If neither parent is available, please be sure to send someone (aunt, grandparent, family friend) in your place. We’re certain questions will arise after the meeting, please take advantage of our open communication policy. The coaching staff is here to help you and your daughter have a positive experience; this is done through effective communication!


Other than the regular monthly tuition payments, there are several additional costs associated with competitive gymnastics. Additional costs can range from $200 - $400 in a given season (additional costs do not qualify for reduced rate assistance). These expenses cover: League Fees, Competition Uniforms, Team Parties/Banquets, End of Season Awards, Practice Meets, Invitational Meets and CPEX. The majority of these fees are due January - March.
The Thornton Twister Team parents have a booster program, Twister Booster Club (TBC), to help offset these additional costs. If at any time you leave the team program, your booster club funds are forfeited. If your daughter joins the team, please email the booster club and request that they add your email address to their address book, twisterbc@gmail.com.
All REQUIRED fees (outside of monthly tuition) are paid directly to the booster club whether you choose to participate in fundraising or not.


Once your child is on the Thornton Twisters Gymnastics Team, she will be expected to attend a two-hour practice two nights per week. Your child will also be expected to attend practice year round. It is extremely important that your child attend all practices to maintain her strength, flexibility and safely learn new skills. Gymnasts who do not attend practice regularly may not be able to attend competitions in the summer months.
NOTE: If your daughter chooses to join our team program she will be expected to compete with the team May – July. However, if your daughter does NOT want to compete, she must remain in the Pre-Team class where her instructor will continue her skill development on all events.

Important Information