Vaulting to New Heights: Avah Anthes’ Journey in Gymnastics

LUDINGTON — Ludington’s Avah Anthes is one of the top gymnasts in northern Michigan and the only level 10 gymnast in Mason County.

But her story goes much deeper than that.

“From three years old I just fell in love with it,” Anthes said. “I loved running and jumping and climbing. You just feel like you’re flying when you’re doing certain things. Around the house I’d always be running or jumping so we started with mommy and me classes and all that. Of course I was the kid that was like “Okay mom, you can leave I can do it all by myself, I don’t need your help.”

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“This is her thing this is her passion, this is her love,” Avah’s mom, Kathy Bootz said. “And before I knew it she was in the gym quite a few times a week.”

She wanted to compete at a higher level, so she enrolled in the Junior Development Program.

“I thought, I’m not really being challenged. I need to start doing more,” Anthes said. “Because even from an early age I’ve always wanted to do college gymnastics, that’s been my whole goal, that’s why I’ve been working so hard over the last 14 years to do it.”

Then her life changed. In April 2010 her parents went through a divorce, which resulted in a dispute over her future as a gymnast.

“Divorce wasn’t easy for me. You know, I went through a lot, it was a hard time for me. But, I think gymnastics really did help me through that too.”

After leaving their old gym, Anthes’ mom, Kathy, re-married in 2012 to Luke Bootz. The pair then opened up Chalkheadz Gym and began coaching Anthes in 2016.

“Without them I definitely wouldn’t be here today,” Anthes said. “They’ve helped me through everything from whether it was something small or building this gym and starting this program basically for me to continue gymnastics.”

But then, on October 12 2018, she suffered an open fracture on her left ankle while vaulting, which brought her gymnastics career to a screeching halt.

“I was pointing my toes in the air and didn’t un-point it, so I landed with my toes down and it went to the side,” Anthes said. “Right away I was rushed to the hospital and obviously I had to have a surgery to put my bone back in my body, which sounds really bad.”

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“I think that all of the time that we put into it and her dream, which was get to college gymnastics, kind of felt like it was just gonna float away,” Avah’s stepdad Luke Bootz said.

What could have neem a career ending injury, turned into an opportunity to get even stronger.

“Even after having that first surgery and just being home for few days, I came back in the gym on Tuesday,” Anthes said. “I was like Mom, I need to go to the gym even if it’s just to watch.”

“I looked over and she’s working out on her arms, and then that Thursday she’s working out on doing pull-ups on a bar. And I’m like okay this kid has the drive” Kathy Bootz said.

“People ask me like if you could go back and not do the vault again would you still do it? And I said yea, I would do that vault even though I know I would get hurt. It just made me want it so much more,” Anthes said.

Through it all, Anthes persevered and now she will continue gymnastics at Central Michigan University, one of the top programs in the state.

“I’m so excited. This has been my dream for so long and so to finally do it, I’m really excited to just go out there and compete and really have a good time with CMU and the rest of the team. Gymnastics teaches you so many life lessons,” Anthes said. “For me, it’s taught me perseverance, hard work, determination, and it’s taught me life lessons that I can carry on with me for the rest of my life.”