By MAKAYLA NAIME
At the age of 12, Alyson Mattei wanted to develop her love for gymnastics, and found herself traveling with Circus Smirkus, the only traveling youth circus in the United States. Mattei is a gymnastics coach and a gym lead at Redlands Gymnastics Club. She works with kids ranging from ages of eighteen months to eighteen years old. She coaches the competitive team from level one to level diamond. Mattei’s job as a gym lead is to make sure that the gym is running smoothly, that everything is clean and organized due to COVID-19 and coaches and gymnasts are safe.
Alyson Mattei in 2013 playing Dorothy in Smirkus Circus’s performance of “The Wizard of Oz ” called Oz Incorporated. Mattei was sitting in a cloud swing and going around in a circle to make the tornado at the beginning of the show. (Photo credit to Robert Sanson)
Born in Pasadena and raised in Southern California, she has moved numerous times and now lives in Highland. She comes from a large Italian family. Her immediate family consists of her mother, Lisa Mattei, her father, George Mattei and her older sister, Amanda Mattei.
She enjoys spending time with her family in her free time and has a close relationship with them. They love to hike, fish and travel together. A few of her favorite places she has ever visited are Alaska, Tennessee, Jamaica and the Caribbean.
During her youth, Mattei was a gymnast for seven years before she quit to do other sports. During her time in gymnastics, she competed on the Aerials Gymnastics team which she now coaches alongside some of her former teammates. Mattei says, “My personal struggle with COVID-19 was being unable to coach. My job is one of my biggest joys, and not seeing my gymnasts for a few months was difficult. COVID-19 changed how we taught gymnastics.” She and all the other coaches had to adapt to teaching smaller classes as to social distance properly and space out classes much more in order to have time to clean equipment.
When she’s not spending time with family, Mattei enjoys listening to music and podcasts to relax and is also currently studying biology and forensic science. Growing up, she met her two biggest mentors at Circus Smirkus. They were her tour counselor, Dani Kehlmann and her artistic director, Troy Wunderle. During her five years with the circus, she learned many life lessons. She says, “They taught me respect for others’ opinions, patience, how to be a good role model, humility and so much more. I would not be who I am today without their many lessons.” To this day Mattei still loves to walk her tight rope in her own time.
She says that others may not know that she is a very caring person and “[tends] to fill the needs of others before [her] own.” She believes that is why she might love coaching so much, as sharing her knowledge and skills with others makes her feel rewarded when they succeed.
Advice that Mattei wants to share with young athletes is “to set a goal and work hard to achieve it. You will have good days and bad days but always keep yourself open to learning new things. Most importantly, respect those helping you reach your goals whether it is your coaches or teammates. They are there to help you achieve your goals.”