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East Bay Area Sister Duo Receive Full Pac-12 Athletic Scholarships

Recent media coverage has cast a shadow over the sport of gymnastics. Let us take the spotlight off the predators who are rightly being punished for their wrongdoing and shine a light on the athletes. Young people who choose endless hours of training in an effort to achieve their goals while sacrificing the usual social aspects of teenage life. Let’s celebrate the athletes who have spent their formative years training to achieve their personal best within the sport that they love. Talia and Zaza Brovedani are two such athletes.

In the tight knit gymnastics community, the Brovedani sisters are known as fierce competitors. This dynamic sister duo combines natural talent with an athletic work ethic that has enabled them to dominate the Junior Olympic gymnastics scene for the past ten years. Talia, age 18, and Alessandra, known as “Zaza”, age 16, began their gymnastics training at Head Over Heels Athletic Arts (HOH) in Emeryville, CA twelve years ago. Their undeniable abilities were apparent to their coaches and the two girls were quickly recruited into the gym’s development tract; a program made up of younger students who have been pulled out of preschool and recreational gymnastics programs after showing an innate aptitude for gymnastics. These students receive training at an accelerated rate in order to be prepared when they reach the age at which they are physically and emotionally ready for competition. Talia and Zaza excelled in Development and moved on to HOH’s competitive team quickly.

Head Over Heels’ Executive Director Katreece Stone has been a central coach of the two standouts since they were five and six years old. She often reminisces of their younger days when Zaza said very little and often communicated through her sister. The two young women have changed quite a bit since those early days. Both sisters are now outspoken and opinionated. “It’s been great training the two of them for so many years,” says Coach Stone. “The long relationship makes them easy to train because we all know each other so well. All of us coaches know exactly how much we can push and when. They as athletes also know how we feel and what our daily expectations are as coaches.”

The Brovedani sisters maintain a straight A average at Berkeley High School in the San Francisco East Bay. No small feat with their training schedule of four hours a day, five days a week and the travel necessary to compete. Their work ethic has been rewarded with much attention from various universities and colleges across the country. Both young ladies will be attending the Division 1 Pac-12 conference school of their choice. Talia, the eldest of the sisters, recently signed her national letter of intent to join the University of Washington on a full athletic scholarship. Alessandra, will graduate next year in the class of 2019. She has verbally committed to the University of Arizona on a full athletic scholarship. Achieving a full athletic scholarship to college in a small, specialized sport like gymnastics is quite an achievement. Having two athletes in the same family achieve this is even more rare.

The Brovedani family has had to make many sacrifices in order for the two young ladies to achieve this level of prestige. Both have had their share of injuries and setbacks while climbing the ranks of their sport. Gymnastics is a sport of the young and agile. Female athletes tend to peak physically at around 17 years old. Many skills must be acquired at a young age in order to capitalize on this small time frame where young athletes can endure the repetitions needed to master a skill. The Brovedani sisters have trained between 20 - 30 hours each week throughout their youth to obtain the mastery level needed to become the high class athletes they have become. The hours of training often meant minimal vacations, missed parties, and a lot of visits to the doctor. Their parents have had to work with their school districts each year to allow them to alter their academic schedules from the norm. In addition to their intense training regime, the young athletes have to travel several times a year for large competitions, which means missed school days. The accommodations to their academic schedules have been a collaborative effort between the schools, family and coaching staff each year of their training. It has taken much diligence to develop and maintain their schedules. A task that has paid off in their incredible athletic achievement.

As they approach the end of their Junior Olympic career, Talia and Zaza are both excited for what lies ahead, yet nostalgic about leaving their home base of Oakland, CA. They both have short term goals to qualify to the Junior Olympic National Championships this May, a highly selective event for the nation's top gymnasts. Both sisters have qualified to this competition several times and are looking forward to reclaiming some individual event titles and competing with longtime rivals. This will be a final National Championship for Talia as she embarks on her next challenge, university life. There is no doubt that she will excel at University of Washington both academically and athletically as she has always done. She, as well as Zaza after her graduation, will be truly missed. Both sister's leadership can be seen each day inside the high energy walls of Head Over Heels Athletic Arts in Emeryville, CA, a non-profit facility that provides gymnastics training to over a thousand kids of every level each week. At such young ages, they both play important roles within organization. They are team captain, junior staff members as well as supportive teammates to their peers. These outstanding young ladies are great examples of what positive outcomes can be produced when you work diligently towards something you are passionate about; a message that needs to be reverberated to the youth of today.

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