Firmly woven into the fabric of Lake Forest is a desire of those raised here to give their children the advantages they received in their youth.
Julie Carlson and Sharon Moccia wanted that for their respective children. But in their case, the link between the past and the present is even stronger.
Their daughters, Kylie Carlson and Brittany Moccia, are teammates on Lake Forest High School's girls' gymnastics team. Turn the clock back to the early 1980s, and Sharon and Julie were also gymnastics teammates. And their coach, Robin Straus, is now coaching their daughters.
In 1985, Julie led the Scouts to a third place state meet finish by capturing an individual title on the uneven parallel bars. She went on to compete for the University of Michigan. Sharon spent two years on the Scouts' gymnastics team before switching to diving, and earning a scholarship to the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
Julie later married Lance Carlson while Sharon wed Michael Moccia as both returned to Lake Forest with their husbands to raise their own families.
“How can I be here,” said Julie referring to the surreal surroundings as she and Sharon chatted before the Scouts dual meet against Warren Jan. 6. “It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long.”
It's actually been 26 years, but familiar faces and surroundings make the passage of time seem fleeting. “A lot of people are still here,” said Moccia, who isn't sure exactly how many classmates have returned to Lake Forest as adults, but “enough to have a dinner party.”
The presence of Straus makes the shared experiences between both mothers and daughters complete.
“She’s a wonderful person,” said Julie of Straus. “This is the only team where the varsity and junior varsity wear the same leotards because Robin (Straus) believes it is all one team."
Added Sharon, “She makes every single girl feel important."
Straus is coaching her 33rd and final season as head coach, and Sharon has watched her daughter Brittany develop as an individual within the same team concept Straus emphasized to her 29 years ago.
“It’s fun to see Brittany have the same experiences I did. Being part of a team is more fun than club,” said Sharon.
Brittany has caught on fast for a freshman, consistently finishing among the top scorers on the Scouts including a personal best 9.65 vault at last weekend's Lake Forest Invitational. She likes the high school atmosphere in contrast to the club level.
“High school is a team sport, not individual like my club,” said Brittany. “I really enjoy it because this is new to me. We support each other and get along really well as a team. If one of us slips, everyone is here to encourage us.”
Kylie, a sophomore, finished seventh in the all-around competition as a freshman in the 2010 State Meet. The year of experience has taught Kylie the value of her teammates’ encouragement when she’s doing flips during a floor exercise or flying from the lower uneven parallel bar to the higher one.
“Every time you’re up there it can hit you,” said Kylie of potential slips. “This is why we root for the team. They’re clearly in your corner and it makes us better.”
Neither parent pushed their daughters into any sport in particular as youngsters though gymnastics was a natural as one of the few activities available for children at a very young age.
“What else can you do when you’re 2 or 3? I just thought it would be an outlet to another sport,” said Julie. “Gymnastics is not a life sport like swimming.”
It was not long before both girls began to flourish.
“She is far better than me at that stage," said Julie. "I went to state as a freshman but didn’t place."
Both Julie and Sharon and the rest of their families will watch from the bleachers when Kylie and Brittany compete with the rest of the Scouts at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Lake County Meet at Stevenson High School.
“It’s great when my grandparents can be at a meet, too,” said Kylie. “The house we live in is down the block from where my mother lived when she was in high school.”