For the Rebounders, the 14th Black-Eyed Susan Invitational gymnastics meet this weekend at the Towson Center will be the equivalent of a high school football team playing host to its season opener at Memorial Stadium.
At the Junior Olympics level, many regional meets are held in the host teams' practice gyms. "So competing at Towson Center is a much bigger feeling," said Rebounders meet director Vivian Manekin.
The meet will mark the beginning of six months of competition for the Timonium-based Rebounders, whose members range in age from 8 to 17, and for many other local and regional teams.
Others competing are Barlow's Gymnastics from Annapolis, Edgewood Superstars from Abingdon, Harford Gymnastics, Perna Twisters & Tumblers from Westminster, Frederick Gymnastics Club, Hills Angels Gymnastics Team from Gaithersburg and Marvateens Gymnastics from Rockville.
Overall, 380 gymnasts representing 27 teams from eight states will compete in balance beam, floor exercise, vault and uneven bars.
Gymnasts typically practice between 12 and 20 hours per week year-round. So although the Rebounders' season concluded in May last year, its members almost immediately began working on routines for this year.
The Black-Eyed Susan Invitational will be the first competitive meet for 10 of the Rebounders. For others, it will be a chance to score high enough to advance to the next level of competition.
"The meet is a proving ground in that way," said Manekin.
Optional, or advanced, competition will begin at 9 a.m. today, and compulsory, or beginning and intermediate, competition will begin at 9 a.m. Sunday. Admission to the event, which is co-sponsored by the Towson State University gymnastics teams, will be $6 for adults and $3 for students; children 5 and under will be admitted free.