C.J. Maestas has been training as a gymnast since he was a toddler, and his grandfathers, Frank Maestas and Frank Barela, have been at his side since the beginning.
They watched him make the U.S. men’s national gymnastics team in 2007 and supported him when he almost made the 2012 U.S. men’s Olympics team in July 2012.
The three sat down together at StoryCorps to talk about C.J.’s gymnastics career and the impact it has had on the whole family.
C.J. plans to keep competing and hopes to make the U.S. men’s Olympics team in 2016.
Click here for the transcript.
Frank Barela (FB): We used to go to the little gym--we were trying to teach you how to make a somersault. Never figuring out that you would, at one point, become such a great gymnast.
C.J. Maestas (CJM): Well, I know definitely that I couldn’t be doing it without you guys.
FB: Well, at the event, the stress is not only on C..J., but it’s on myself, because we're like, he did so well during practice, is he going to be able to make it at the event?
CJM: It's nice to have you guys in my corner because, you know, recently, I was sittin' in fifth place going into my last event. And to make the senior national team, all I had to do was make top seven.
And I'm the underdog, but I was feeling so confident. And unfortunately, I lost my spot. I was crying my eyes out, you know, like a baby.
And, you know, that was one time where I did go into my grandpa's arms, and I said, “You know what man, I tried.” And you said, “It’s okay, there is always another time.”
FB: And you know I am going to be there.
FB: I've been for all the other ones. I’ll be there forever.
CJM: I just want to say thank you, both of you. When the day comes, and I do hopefully stand on that podium, I know that my grandfathers--they got me to be this man who I am now.
FM: Well, not too many young men accomplish what you have accomplished at this age. We are so, so proud of you C.J. Don’t give up.