Jude Wade Fearless In His Quest To Be The Best Gymnast
MADISON- For as long as his family can remember Jude Wade has been a natural at gymnastics-type acrobatics. “He has always been a climber and has no fear. He used to climb out of his baby crib and would soon learn to jump off the furniture,” said Kate Wade, Jude’s mother.
Today, the 12-year old sixth grade student at Discovery Middle School has honed his natural skills to a whole new level as he competes as a Level 8 optional men’s gymnast at Southern States Gymnastics, and has competed on a national level at the recent Eastern Nationals held in Battle Creek, Mich. At the event attended by elite gymnasts from the Eastern half of the United States, Jude placed fifth on the vault, eighth on both rings and floor.
“Against tough competition I always try and do my best as I can’t do anything about the others within the competition,” said Jude. “I love gymnastics being an individual sport and it’s really about the mindset the sport puts you in as you have to put any mistakes you make behind you. For me, I do that, and I keep going to do my best.”
One of three children to GerDono and Kate Wade, Jude, who was so named after the 1968 mega-hit “Hey Jude” by The Beatles, has participated in recreational hockey, flag football and soccer, and will play basketball this fall. He turned to gymnastics in 2017 while in the first grade where he was seen to pick up the necessary skills rather quickly. Many of his natural talents stem from having a trampoline in the backyard and he was known to frolic in the backyard and on trips to the beach turning flips as easy as many others can walk. Each year he has progressed in levels of talent to where he is today.
In just his second year of gymnastics, he was elevated to Level 5 where he won both the AA Alabama State and Region 8 Championships. Jude moved to Level 6 in 2019-2020 where he won the Alabama State title and, in the very next season he moved to Level 7 where he won the AA Alabama State Championship for the third consecutive year.
This past season at Level 8, Jude finished runner-up at the Alabama Championship, fourth in his age group at Region 8 and 11th from all ages at Region followed by his 13th place finish at the Eastern Nationals. For his overall work and performances at the state level, he was named Alabama Men’s USA Gymnastics Athlete of the Year. His efforts to continue to excel through the months of the recent COVID shutout enhances the honor bestowed upon him as he never stopped training through efforts at home.
“His grandfather made him a pommel horse, a tumble track went in the hallway of our home and a mini-set of parallel bars was set up in our living room,” said Kate, who was a longtime swim coach and is currently assistant principal at Discovery Middle School. “We enjoy learning about the sport and have signed up Jude and his sister for recreational gymnastics so they could have an activity to do at the same time after school.”
“I feel I’m fearless when it comes to sports and I really don’t mind trying new things,” said Jude, an A-B student. He described what he goes through on the three of his best events. “On the rings after I’m lifted to the two rings, I put myself in a positive mindset and take a deep breath and go for it. On the vault, I visualize my approach as I need power that allows me more time in the air to flip and hit the landing. As for the floor exercise, I love the running fast and that feeling of the air around me. I also concentrate from the fact of when I make a mistake, I know I have to get through it and do my best.”
In June of last year, the Wade family made its way north on Interstate 55 and made a stop in St. Louis for the USA Men’s Gymnastics Olympic Trials, which featured Yul Moldaur from Oklahoma, who made the USA Men’s Gymnastics Team, which competed in Tokyo. After the event, the new Olympian met with his adoring fans with Jude being among them. Today, meeting Moldaur has been one of Jude’s favorite experiences since taking up the sport.
“I met my role model and I want to be like him as he’s always upbeat and always smiling,” said Jude. “I want to attend the University of Oklahoma and participate in gymnastics.”
The just completed summer months featured Jude spending at least three hours a day at the gym where he split his workout time with both the girls and boys programs. His morning sessions with the girls were under the watchful eyes of Southern States’ head coach and owner Debbie Santos while the evening sessions were strictly for boys with three coaches handling the training sessions. Jude’s exceptional natural skills and his uncanny ability to learn quickly have put him among the elite in the United States. He has what’s described as clean lines in his moves, colorful personality and serious about his effort, but at the completion of any of his hard work in the gym he always breaks a smile and is friendly to everyone around him.
His devotion to his favorite sport is one of amazement as at one time during the COVID time at home he could easily be seen practicing on rings that were secured to a doorway in his home. His commitment to others includes being what Kate called “A mega-cheerleader for others at the gym and at school.” Jude has spent numerous hours of his limited free time where he has volunteered to help special need students. With his bright smile, positive attitude and sparkly personality, Jude is a natural at helping others.
His competitive spirit is enormous, considering he stands just 4-feet-7-inches tall and weighs in at a mere 77-pounds, keeps him giving his best each time he’s in a competition or at practice as he knows his hard work is essential to his success in the sport that for many is nothing more than an event seen on television during the coverage of the Olympics. He deals with occasional flareups of Sever’s Disease, a painful condition associated with growth spurts for children ages 8-14. The pain mostly occurs in his heals, but no one would ever know by the smile he always carries on his face.
“There is a community awareness for boys gymnastics and we’re very thankful and fortunate to have in the area a place like Southern States Gymnastics,” added Kate. “He lives and breathes gymnastics. His best friends are in gymnastics.”
The newest season of gymnastics will begin in November and last until next May. Jude will be there giving his best effort in every aspect of the sport with his eyes set on performing well and one day making that trip to Oklahoma to attend school and have a spot on the men’s gymnastics team, plus have a shot at being an Olympian.
“I want to make the Olympic team and make boys gymnastics more popular,” said Jude, who began his trek into gymnastics from climbing, to cartwheels and backhand flips, which led full twists and landings that are among the best in the United States.