Age doesn’t matter for one BYU gymnastics volunteer

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Eighty-one-year-old Don Norton flips and twists around the gymnastics bar better than most people in their 20’s.

“Surprise isn’t even a powerful enough word. I mean it’s pretty impressive he can get up there and do that,” 26-year-old BYU student Jake Dawson said.

Norton never competed in gymnastics growing up. He had his own methods to get up and at ‘em.

“I grew up on a farm outside of Burley, Idaho, we had a couple of elm trees in the front yard, and somebody put a pole across, so I hung a trapeze bar. A couple of ropes with piece of conduit in between, I swung on that,” Norton said.

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Norton did his undergraduate studies at BYU where he took a gymnastics class. Now Clark volunteers as a gymnast instructor.

“It’s just plain fun. and it enables me to stay with the sport,” Norton said.

Norton inspires students like 26-year-old Ben Fischer, a senior at BYU.

“He tries things that we can’t do.”

Fellow student Jake Dawson agrees.

“Just being able to see him get up on the apparatus and do backflips off [the gymnastics bar] is pretty inspiring. It makes me want to be able to do it myself.”

Norton said he gets to play alongside the students.

“I tell the students it’s like being in an adult McDonald’s playground. And all the students say it’s clearly the most fun class they’ve had at BYU.”

How does he do it?

“What you stick with, you can keep doing. But you got to keep doing it,” Norton said.

Norton was also a nationally certified gymnastics judge for 47 years. He said he was the most calm when he judged an event.

Norton not only mentors students in their swinging abilities; but he also edits their respective applications to dental, medical, and law schools. On top of it all, he is an oral historian.

“He ended up doing an oral interview for me. And typing the whole thing out. I have the recording now. It’s my conversion story. I’ve got that for my kids now. Don is the man,” Dawson said.

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