FPC’s Peyton Halliday has become one of the top gymnasts in the Southeast region.
Peyton Halliday stands nice and tall, building confidence for her routine. She visualizes her performance in her head one more time in hopes of achieving a perfect score. Once she’s introduced, Peyton salutes the crowd and smiles. After that, she executes.
Prior to gymnastics, this sort of focus and structure escaped Peyton. Diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at a young age, she struggled at home, in school and in sports.
“She was the epitome of being impulsive,” said Kim Halliday, her mother.
Peyton was filled with energy, and her parents, Kim and David, didn’t know how to focus it. They tried softball and recreational gymnastics, but both were not structured enough for Peyton. From there, they placed Peyton in competitive gymnastics with coach Kelly Flagler.
“We first knew we had made the right decision when Peyton would come home and go to sleep,” Kim laughed. “We wouldn’t have to follow her around the house where she would start one activity and move on to the next. Both Dave were I were like, ‘OK. Maybe this is a really good idea.’”
Competitive gymnastics was highly structured. Peyton had to pay attention, or she would fall.
While she enjoyed the sport, Peyton often struggled just to avoid finishing last because she lacked the gracefulness that was expected in her routines. Coach Flagler ultimately decided to move her to higher levels to take advantage of her physical strength, which could be displayed to full advantage on more difficult routines.
“Trying to get her parents to understand that was hard,” Flagler said, “when she was only scoring so low and getting last place. They would ask, ‘How are you telling me my kid is good enough to be at a high level but isn’t scoring well at all?’ I would tell them to trust me.”
After building routines that displayed her power, Peyton began to excel, and she centered all her focus on getting better.
“It’s fun to watch her perform,” her mother said, “but it’s still not so much fun to watch her practice. As she learns the higher, more elite skills, of course she’s going to fall, and that’s just not something a mom wants to see.”
Kim’s worst nightmare came when Peyton broke her elbow on the balance beam two years ago. Many nights, she and David discussed whether gymnastics was the best thing for Peyton. She had already broken her finger.
“This was almost a deal breaker for me,” Kim said. “It was hard, seeing my little one laying on a stretcher with her elbow not where it supposed to be, but, when I went to the ambulance, Peyton said, ‘Mom, it’s OK, and I’ll be back on the floor before you know it.' When you have a young person who has the passion and drive to do something, it’s really hard to not support her anymore.”
Two weeks after her surgery, Peyton returned to the gym, and she began working on splits, sit-ups and anything to stay in shape without wasting any time.
“You’re not going to find a more determined kid who says she going to do something and not do it," Kim Halliday said. "She gets pretty hell-bent on completing something that’s she’s made her mind up to do.”
Peyton Halliday placed fifth at the USAG Florida State Meet, which earned her a spot at regionals. She finished 12th at the USAG Region Championships on April 9, in Greensboro, North Carolina.