Far From Routine

Bella and Macy Haas share a love of gymnastics – and a knack for winning

Bella and Macy Haas

photographs by Marci Lambert

Every night, Bella and Macy Haas chat long past bedtime. With many mutual interests, the 10-year-old twins share plans and confidences. They swap quirky science facts or rate new foods they’ve sampled at the international farmers market. Bring gymnastics into the conversation, and the sisters find it almost impossible to wind down.

It’s their strongest tie, a fierce love for the physical and mental demands of competitive gymnastics. They recently shared the podium at the 2012 Mississippi State Champion Meet. In Level 6 All-Around, Macy came in second place, and Bella finished third. “Gymnastics builds confidence that they will carry with them, no matter what they do,” says mom Tia. “They are learning not to be intimidated by new things.”

At ConXion Gym in Hernando, Mississippi, the girls are identical whirlwinds of energy. Bella practices on the balance beam, while Macy works on the horizontal bar. Later, they meet up on the floor to practice round-off back tucks.

With matching brown eyes and braided hair, each can finish the other’s sentence. Still, there’s a key difference. “Macy likes to go backward on the beam, and I’m a front flipper,” says Bella. While Bella stands out in vault, Macy shines on the beam.

 Just two years ago, the girls were taking lessons at Little Gym. But they showed strength and form and soon moved to ConXion to train competitively. “The girls caught coach Tam Banning’s eye with their round-off back tucks,” says Tia. Banning put them on a Prep Silver team, and trophies soon followed.

 Now Bella and Macy are preparing to test for Level 7, which allows gymnasts to break away from compulsory routines and experiment with choreography. “Bella and Macy eat, sleep, and breathe for gymnastics,” says their father, Tad. They practice 20 hours each week, as well as run and condition.

The sisters talk enthusiastically about the University of Alabama gymnastics team, Gabby Douglas, and the bliss found in challenges. Macy’s T-shirt playfully reads: ‘I’m the reason your coach makes you practice.’ She says, “I like to win, and I like to have fun. I’d like to compete in the Olympics. People would know you love the sport.” Adds Bella, “Gymnastics is fun and challenging.”

The family lives in Bridgetown, Mississippi, where the sisters attend fourth grade at Louisburg Elementary. Both are honor roll students.

Last summer, Bella and Macy attended Gymbacks camp at the University of Arkansas, where they trained with Jaime Pisani, the SEC Gymnast of the Year. New friends and days dedicated to practice made for a memorable week. “I learned to do a double front,” says Bella. Last month, the girls were bound for the Edgewater Classic in Florida. Tia says the family may eventually move to Texas for opportunities to train with world-renowned coaches.

The twins share a healthy competitiveness, but always have each other’s back. When Bella had a disappointing finish on the beam, Macy consoled her saying, “You can take my place on the podium and take the trophy. No one will know.”

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