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Melloni reaches new heights on trampoline

Sterling resident Nick Melloni will represent USA Gymnastics in the 2017 World Age Group Competitions, set for Nov. 12-16 in Bulgaria.—Courtesy Photo
It’s easy to pick Nick Melloni out from the maze of mats, bars and all the apparatus inside Sterling’s Dulles Gymnastics Academy. He’s the guy wearing the purple and green tie-dye t-shirt, performing double- and triple-flips, seeming to scrape the rafters with his high-flying moves.

“It’s a passion that I found,” said Melloni of his chosen athletic outlet, an esoteric yet demanding sport called trampoline.

The recent Potomac Falls High School graduate hopes to be just as noticeable when he’s in a foreign land wearing red, white and blue, embroiled in his biggest trampolining competition yet.

Officially, the sports of trampolining and tumbling are governed by USA Gymnastics, the body which selected Melloni as one of four American men ages 17 to 21 to compete in the double-mini on behalf of the nation.

In a few days Melloni will fly to Sofia, Bulgaria, to show off his skills in the World Age Group Competitions to be held Nov. 12-16. Melloni will lead off the U.S. team’s lineup.

“It’s pretty nerve-racking. Beyond what I can imagine,” he said. “I really don’t know what to expect. I competed in the nationals [in Milwaukee] back in June, and that was the biggest stage I’ve ever been on. This is going to be like that, but times ten.”

Melloni‘s path to the trampoline began on the mat. Throughout elementary school he was serious about “artistic” gymnastics, the conventional brand of high beams and bars and rings.

“I was never at the same level as I’m at now,” he said. By the sixth grade, he “wanted to branch out, play sports all my friends were playing.”

He put on pads and played on youth lacrosse and football teams, manning athletic positions like midfielder and running back during his middle school years.

By freshman year of high school he missed gymnastics, he said - not the intensity of daily four-hour training sessions, but the challenge of the sport. He returned to DGA just as owner Debi Walk began a trampolining program, catching his interest.

“I don’t know, I’d always liked bouncing on the trampoline. I figured I’d give it a try,” he said of his decision four years ago. “I was one of the first people on the team.”

So Melloni went from artistic gymnast to trampoline artist, taking a few years off to sample conventional team sports. His journey has made him comfortable with his calling.

“I figured out what I like and what I didn’t like, and what I like is just flipping around and upside down and stuff most people don’t do.”

Ready for Worlds

Melloni already owns a gold medal, one he earned just five months after leaving the field and returning to the gym. It’s from the tumbling category of his age group in the 2013 U.S. Trampoline & Tumbling Championships, earning him and four teammates a photograph and a mention by the Loudoun Times-Mirror.

But the WAG Competitions are a different level altogether.

“It’s as much a mental game at that level,” Melloni said.

He will perform on the double-mini, a challenging trampoline event with loftier tricks and narrower landing area. His favorite trick - due to its extremity - is the rapidly spinning triple-back tuck move.

“Double-mini is like the most extreme of all the trampoline events. It’s like the X Games. It’s just a thrill,” he said.

Walk, Melloni’s coach, added that “double-mini is about getting up really high and sticking the skill. He has extreme air-sense. He can just feel where he is in the air, and he has a great ability to get his feet down.”

Melloni listened intently to his coach. He then made her laugh, replying, “I’m just trying to land.”

Both coach and pupil believe that medalling at Worlds is a realistic goal. Walk said that Melloni, whom she has dubbed “Iceman,” has the poise to execute with the spotlight on. Melloni anticipates the chance to introduce his skills to a global audience.

“I just got to rock their socks off,” he stated.

Nick Melloni

-Age: 18
-Born and raised: Sterling
-Sport: Trampoline
-Specialty: Double-mini
-Best skill: Triple-back tuck
-Typical height reached: 20 feet
-Previous sports: Gymnastics; tumbling; lacrosse; football
-Graduated: PFHS
-Attends: NVCC
-Next event: T&T World Age Group Competitions, Nov. 16-19 in Sofia, Bulgaria


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