Going for gold

Going for gold

It's 'Aly Oop' for Eden

Eden Glick won five medals in the USA Gymnastics-New Jersey state meet.

There are a lot of differences between Carnegie Hall and an Olympic stadium, but when you ask your GPS how to get to either one, you get the same directions.


It helps if you start that practice when you are really young. In other words, if you want even a chance to become Aly Raisman, first you have to work very hard to turn yourself into Eden Glick.

Eden, who is 10 years old and a fourth grader in Hillside Elementary School in Closter, is an up-and-coming young gymnast. In January, she won five medals in the USA Gymnastics-New Jersey state meet – silver for all-around and uneven bars, and bronze for floor, vault, and beam. (USAG is the national governing body for the sport of gymnastics in this country; it sets the rules and policies, and sends teams to the Olympics.)

Eden’s connection to gymnastics began when she was about 2 years old. “We noticed that she had a natural ability to be flexible and swing,” her mother, Lily Lev-Glick, said. “She had very strong stomach muscles; she could pull herself up on a bar. When we took her to classes, people would ask how old she was, and how could she possibly do what she did.

“She was both petite and strong, with the right muscle tone. She would naturally move in playgrounds and in play classes in ways that other children didn’t.

“She’s the right body type for a gymnast.”

Eden comes by her talent naturally. Her father, Rob Glick, is a competitive cyclist, and her mother did gymnastics in high school. Her older brother, Zachary, is a red belt in tae kwan do.

When Eden was a toddler, she took classes with everyone else – not only was she obviously a gifted gymnast, but her parents guessed, accurately as it turned out, that the sport would draw the shy little girl out of her shell. By second grade, though, she and her parents had to make a choice. “One of the coaches recognized that she had talent, and said that if we were interested, she thought it would be good to have her go the competitive route.

“It’s a big commitment. We talked about it at home. We thought it would be great for her.”

As a result of that decision, Eden’s life is packed. “She trains every night from 6 to 9:30,” her mother said. “And then there are the meets, which start in the fall and go through the winter.” Eden’s level – 5 until after the state meet, when she was promoted to Level 6 – saw its finals in January.

“As she gets older, they go later in the year and become more frequent, and there also are meets on the regional and national level,” Lev-Glick said.

Although her meet is long over, Eden continues to train. “Training is year-round. They have two weeks off each year,” Lev-Glick said. “She goes in the summer from 10 to 2 most days; some days start at 8:30.” Fridays, however, are off.

In the summer, Eden goes to an international gymnastics camp in Stroudsburg, Pa.

“She’s really aspiring to be an elite gymnast,” her mother said.

Getting to that level involves many sacrifices, and a finely honed sense of priorities and obligations. Eden does not mind, her mother said. “She loves it so much!

“She needs to be very focused. She knows that when she gets home from school, she has x amount of time. She has to get her homework done. She plays the piano – she has to get her practice done. And there is Hebrew school.”

The Glick family’s Jewish connections are strong. They belong to Temple Beth El of Northern Valley in Closter. And among Eden’s ambitions are to qualify for the Maccabiah Games. She will be too young for the upcoming 19th games, set for this summer, but she will not be too old for the 20th games, which will be played four years from now.

Eden is lucky enough to have what her mother calls “a major Jewish role model” in her sport. That’s Aly Raisman. The two met when Raisman visited Eden’s gym last summer, before the Olympics. It was a peak moment for the younger gymnast.

Of course, her mother said, life is fluid. “She’s going into middle school next year. We’ll see how or if anything changes.”

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