Story by Jeff Gard/jgsportsmedia.com
Nick Widdis loves an adrenaline rush.
It helps him relax.
As a young child, he had a lot of energy and would climb whatever he could find. He tried soccer, but still he “seemed to climb on a lot of stuff.”
His parents enrolled him in a different sport, gymnastics, in Pickering which proved to be the outlet he needed.
“When I first started to get into gymnastics, it was definitely a higher physical level than soccer so it was a lot more pushing myself which then led to me having fun and enjoying it once I got the hang of doing gymnastics,” said Widdis, who lives near Port Hope and is a student at St. Mary Catholic Secondary School in Cobourg.
After training in gymnastics for a few years, the 15-year-old has now focused on the trampoline for the past six and is currently training at a national level.
“Trampoline allows me to use my energy and athletic prowess effectively and gives me an outlet to relax,” he said.
Since moving to this area when he was 11, Widdis now trains out of Anti-Gravity Acrosports in Whitby. What began as eight hours of gymnastics training each week when he first started has increased to 15 now for the trampoline.
“With gymnastics you got to go on the trampolines that they had in the facility for 10 minutes during the whole training and I’m a person who loves the feeling of adrenaline,” Widdis said. “When you do trampoline, you go up high enough that you start to fall back down and you get that butterfly feeling, which gets your adrenaline pumping. From that I just decided I liked that jumping up and falling down and doing it all over again more than swinging on bars.”
During a regular week when the facility is open, Widdis has five training days with three hours for each session. A typical day includes a 6 a.m. wake-up time, more than an hour bus ride to school to study or get more sleep, six hours at school, the same hour-plus bus ride back home, a meal on the way to training and his three-hour session and then “another dinner” before he gets as much sleep as possible before he does it again the next day.
“With trampoline you burn a lot of calories because it’s a very cardio-demanding sport,” he said.
That makes training at home during a pandemic challenging.
“It’s definitely difficult because of that cardio aspect because you have to have very good cardio endurance,” Widdis remarked. “There’s very limited things that you can do at home to keep up that cardio level. I have been going on runs almost three times a week, but I do a home workout every other day if not every day entailing core, back, arms and legs, especially legs…because I don’t have a trampoline to keep my leg strength up.”
Strength and cardio is important to help limit the risk factor of trampoline.
“It is considered a very dangerous sport because at the level I’m at right now, I’m jumping 16 to 20 feet in the air without any harness or anything,” he said. “That’s one factor that most people think is not the best with trampoline, but you also get taught to control yourself so you’re not just flying all over the place. With the years of experience, you learn how to do everything properly so you do not have that risk factor.”
In just six years years of training for standard trampoline as well as the double mini discipline, Widdis is achieving great results. He’s a multi-time provincial champion and an Eastern Canadian champion while also competing at national and international competitions.
Two years ago at the Loulé Cup in Portugal, placed second in his double mini competition and placed top five in standard trampoline.
“I went into that meet definitely doubting myself a bit because it was my first international competition, but then I realized that it’s not so much different than competitions in Canada,” he said. “It’s just other people from other countries.”
On that same trip, he competed at a World Tour Cup event in Spain, which was a qualifier for the World Games, though he was too young to qualify at that time. He placed fifth in double mini and eighth on the standard trampoline.
“It showed me that if I keep the work up I could potentially get to the Olympic level,” Widdis said.
That’s definitely the goal for Widdis and he looks up to Olympians like Rosie MacLennan and Jason Burnett. He’s had the opportunity to attend camps led by Canada trampoline coach David Ross.
“At first it was definitely very nerve-wracking, but once you got into the training camp and started talking to Dave Ross he’s a very nice guy and you realize that it’s not as stressful as it seems,” he said. “I definitely learned to be more aware of what I’m doing and not kind of just throw myself in the air for tricks, to actually learn how to do stuff more correctly to limit that risk factor.”
Due to his age, Widdis’ Olympic aspirations will have him aiming to compete at the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles. He won’t make the age cut in time for 2024.
“That gives me even more time to qualify for it,” he said. “The Olympics is definitely the final goal, not even just trying to medal, but to participate and be a part of the Canadian international team.”
In the meantime, Widdis will continue training and marvel at what the athletes at the Olympic level can do.
“Really the one word I can say is ‘wow.’ It’s amazing to see even the difference in my level now to the Olympic level,” Widdis said. “It’s just amazing to see the difference and the stuff you can learn within those levels to become a better athlete and a better trampolinist.”
Click the play button to listen to the full interview posted at the top of this page.