Gulliver Prep senior Matthew Elgart paid close attention to the American men competing in the Olympics gymnastics earlier this summer. Elgart is a Level 10 gymnast who trains at South Miami Gymnastics. He not only works out there, but also helps coach some of the younger kids as well.
“It’s kind of fun,” he says. “When you look at something, rather than doing it, it helps. Having the experience makes it easier to teach.”
Elgart has been participating in gymnastics since he was in kindergarten. His elementary school offered gymnastics in physical education and he loved it so much he continued even when he moved on to middle school and high school. He enters six or seven gymnastics events each year.
Most of the competitions are in state, but he did participate in two outside of Florida during the last school year – one in Las Vegas and another in the Bahamas.
“In the Bahamas, it was a small meet and I finished second overall,” he says. “The best event I have been in was Tampa’s Gasparilla Classic. I got second all around in my age group.”
Elgart won third place in his age group in the event in Las Vegas. That event was open to any gymnast in the nation and is a place where people outside the state can take notice of gymnasts that are not on the Olympics track.
Elgart says he participates in gymnastics for fun – that fun includes two-and-a-halfhour practices five days a week – and although he loves the sport, he doubts that he will compete when he goes off to college.
As a high school student, Elgart is committed to completing his community service. He volunteers helping kids at summer camp and he collects uniforms from the kids in the middle school and lower school.
“We know a priest in Haiti and we send the uniforms there,” he says. “We send them through St. Augustine Catholic Church once a year, at the end of school year.”
The volunteers put up flyers around the campus in advance and they alert the administrations so they can send out announcements.
“They have collections and they put them in the front office,” Elgart says. “On the last day of school, we picked up the bags and held them a while, then we sent them to Haiti.”
Elgart is involved in Health Interested Students of America (HISA). The group hosts fundraisers, including two walks, one for breast cancer and one for diabetes.
They also organize blood drives during the school year. Elgart joined HISA on the recommendation of his biology teacher. He is also on the chess team. That club meets every Monday after school hours.
“The club members go to a couple of tournaments every year,” Elgart says. “You play from five to seven games at a tournament and they’ve done pretty well. There was one tournament I didn’t go to where they were very close to winning the whole thing.”
Chess is another sport that Elgart says does just for fun. He took a chess class in middle school and that hooked him on the game.
Elgart is also in the National Honor Society and the Cum Laude Society, a club for the top academic students.
Now that he’s a high school senior, Elgart will begin developing his list of colleges that he would like to attend. He is interested in science as a major and in Duke University.
“My bother goes to Duke, so I’ve been there a couple of times; I checked it out and it’s cool,” he says. “I already know that I’m going to apply to Duke.”