Belleville resident Robert Alessio, Jr. brought home the gold medal from the recent NJ Gymnastics Boy's State Championship.
The competition was held on March 17-18, 2012 in Colts Neck and was attended by 17 teams and more than 60 gymnasts from all over the state. Perhaps what makes Alessio’s victory more precious though, especially for his proud parents, is that the boy is only 6-years-old.
In an interview with Patch, the young gymnast, who prefers to be called “Bobby,” together with his mom, shared about his experiences with the sport at a very young age.
Bobby started doing gymnastics when he was only 3-years-old. He said he got interested in it because his sister was doing it. Eight-year-old Carmela Alessio is also a gymnast, dancer and singer. At present, Bobby trains twice a week at the Eastern National Academy of Gymnastics in Paramus, under Coach Will Sanders.
The boy, who attends public school in Belleville, said his favorite subject is math.
According to mom Elena, “He’s easy. He does all his homework by himself.”
Elena talked about a brief period when the kids at school made fun of Bobby because of his hobby, "It’s not a very popular sport in town like football or wrestling.”
His mother said,“It’s not a sport that a lot of boys are into so some kids don’t understand. I had to make him a little picture-folder, which he could carry and show his schoolmates. So he can tell them, ‘This is what I do. If you’re able to do them, then make fun of me; but if not, you can’t make fun of me.’”
Bobby and his sister are also part of the Newark Bearettes Dance Team, under the leadership of Reach Out and ViiBE choreographer Courtney Lynch. As a Bearette, he does dance routines such as hip-hop, jazzfunk and street jazz to encourage fan participation during the Newark Bears games.
“The dance team also does outreach for kids to help keep them out of the streets,” shares Elena. “Last year, they also did a dance presentation for breast cancer awareness.”
Bobby’s trademark is his Mohawk and for the breast cancer awareness performance, he dyed his hair pink.
Elena said she and her husband keep encouraging their children to be involved in such sports and causes because it teaches them a lot about life.
“Being in gymnastics teaches them how to think, how to be good problem-solvers. They learn how to interact with kids from different ages and social backgrounds, how to deal with life’s little obstacles, and exposes them to the bigger world.”
As for little Bobby, who wants to follow in the footsteps of his favorite gymnast Jonathan Horton, he says he wants to keep doing gymnastics until he's grown.
Asked what he likes most about gymnastics, he exclaims with a most child-like honesty, “That I won the States’!”