Steven Gluckstein has a few minutes to squeeze in an interview, but those few minutes are about all he can spare with his hectic schedule.
The 24-year-old gymnast is about to board a plane bound for St. Petersburg, Russia, for a trampoline and tumbling world cup. This competition comes on top of his role as a coach, a business management student at Rutgers and an athlete training to maintain his status as an elite trampolinist.
|Steven Gluckstein competes at the 2014 USA Gymnastics Championships in July 2014 in Louisville, Ky.|
“To say that I am a busy man is an understatement,” Gluckstein said. “But it has definitely taught me time management. I feel that anything I do in my future will be easier than what I am doing now.”
The immediate future includes a hopeful top-eight finish at the world cup this weekend.
The goal seems realistic, but just a few months ago would’ve been extravagant.
Last year, Gluckstein broke his right forearm. He wondered not long ago whether he’d even be competing in the world cup, let alone setting high expectations for it.
In February, the 2012 Olympian from New Jersey resumed training. By April, he’d won the U.S. Elite Challenge in just his second meet since the injury. Now he ventures into international competition for the first time.
“My progress has been much faster than expected,” Gluckstein said.
Then there’s the upcoming USA Gymnastics Championships later this month in Greensboro, North Carolina, and the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, which Gluckstein qualified for with his win at the U.S. Elite Challenge.
At both, a gold medal is the cherished — and expected — prize.
Gluckstein realizes he’s back at peak performance, though his April win came as a bit of a surprise.
Knowing he was behind in training, Gluckstein entered the U.S. Elite Challenge unpressured. Being off his game just a bit was probable and understandable. He was at ease just competing.
“Without that pressure for myself, I think that kind of led me to such good performances, and then the confidence came after that,” he said. “They kind of go hand-in-hand with the lack of stress and pressure, and the confidence.”
Meanwhile, Gluckstein also is realizing glory from the other side. As a coach, he works with people from ages 2 to 50, though his primary group ranges from 10 to 16.
|Steven Gluckstein competes at the 2014 USA Gymnastics Championships in July 2014 in Louisville, Ky.
Gluckstein has seen himself succeed, from the humble beginnings when the local taekwondo school shut down and his parents inquired about channeling his athletic abilities as a jockey, a cheerleader or a gymnast, knowing those sports best fit his skillset and frame.
Already a black belt in taekwondo, he was crushed and unenthused with the options. Begrudgingly, he chose gymnastics — and fell in love with it. His brother Jeffrey followed and did the same. Today Jeffrey is one of Steven’s biggest competitors.
Steven Gluckstein ventured to the trampoline discipline and developed into one of the best in the world at it. Trampoline became an Olympic sport by 2000, and 12 years later, Gluckstein represented the United States on that stage in the London Games.
But he also gave back.He works with kids that he hopes to someday watch on an Olympic platform.
“Winning a medal is one of the best things, but honestly, I’ve been coaching for about nine years now and watching the athlete succeed is probably much more rewarding,” Gluckstein said.
Which leads to his long-term goal, what he’s spent all those hours at Rutgers Business School studying for.
“I hope to open up trampoline schools around the country and spread the sport and my knowledge of the sport,” Gluckstein said. “When you hear trampoline, you say, ‘My daughter has one in the backyard.’ It is a sport. I’ve never met anyone who has seen the sport and wasn’t in awe.
“It’s a beautiful and amazing sport to watch. My life’s goal is to share this sport with the world.”