Gymnastics in the House: Paula and Lexi Lupien Score a Perfect 10 Together

On January 31, 2003, Paula Lupien brought her daughter Lexi into the world.

Paula Lupien is now the gymnastics coach at Franklin High, while Lexi Lupien is one of the gymnasts on the team.

“Never in my wildest imagination did I think she was destined for gymnastics.  Her dad is 6′ 7″ and she grew very fast and even when we started out in the gym when she was two, I thought maybe we would stay in recreational gymnastics for just a few years,” Paula Lupien said. “I was impressed with her drive at such a young age.  No one could tell her she couldn’t do something.  Even though her fast growing height was a challenge to her throughout the sport of gymnastics, she always worked hard to overcome whatever challenge came her way.  She’s been a fighter her whole life.”

In her freshman year, Lexi Lupien was named Rookie of the Year, but it did not feel as good as it should have.

With her mother being her head coach, it might seem like she gets special treatment or added perks, but she is just like any other athlete.

“I was overjoyed to receive the award but was unsure of the effects of being named Rookie of the Year was going to have on my team. It was hard at first, but then people started to understand that it truly did come down to the statistics and that I am treated just the same in the gym, if not tougher,” Lexi Lupien said. “Receiving that award made me excited to continue my gymnastics career, since I was losing joy in the sport right around that time period.”

Coach Lupien prides herself in keeping people from realizing she is Lexi’s mother as she cares deeply about everyone on her team and treats Lexi the same as anyone else.

“As a mom and as a coach, you struggle with the fact that maybe you are putting her in a situation or position where people can judge her because I’m her mom. She feels the pressure to perform better because no one can argue with scores,” Paula Lupien said. “She has never called me mom in the gym from day one of coaching, it’s always been coach or Paula. It’s important we don’t cross those lines. If anything, I’m harder on her, my expectations are at times higher.”

Lexi first began gymnastics when she was two. She started competing in kindergarten for her pre-team and then worked her way through the levels and into her Xcel program. She then joined the Franklin High Panthers squad.

In the eighth grade, she fractured one of her knuckles in her left hand. Lupien’s doctor allowed her to train without the use of her casted hand and she continued on with gymnastics.

One of the skills she worked on while injured was a front full. She tried it out on her birthday in January which resulted in her right knee collapsing into her shin. She severely bruised her patella bone due to there being a hairline fracture across the knee cap.

She was out for eight weeks and chronic tendinitis has been a recurring injury every year since. During January of freshman year, in a competition against Attleboro, she warmed up her front pass right before competing and blew her knee out, resulting in another trip to the doctor.

This time she recovered within two weeks and was able to compete at the Hockomock League Meet.

During her sophomore year in a meet against North Attleboro, she suffered a more sever injury than the prior one. She was warming up on vault, landed, and her knee collapsed once again like in the eighth grade, but without the hairline fracture.

“It took me out of the meet completely on the three events that I was being relied on to compete in. I was super frustrated since this injury is one that never seemed to go away, giving me lasting pain every day, whether it’s climbing the stairs or running in practice,” Lexi Lupien said. “With this knee injury, I have to specifically plan out what I want to work on at practice, because a combination of power events in the same practice is not reasonable for me since my knee can only handle so much impact. I must periodically ice and stretch, as well as remove myself from practicing and limit the amount of routines or drills I can do because of the pain I feel. Even though I want to constantly push through the pain, I’m teetering the possibility of me potentially ending my career.”

This past winter was the first full season she made it completely through since seventh grade and it was her best so far. She finished in the top three spots on each event for her team and made it to state individuals, placed third at the Hockomock League meet and came in sixth at the sectional competition.

Paula Lupien has coached Lexi for eight years and her all-time favorite moment was from this past season at State individuals when she was competing on vault. She hadn’t landed a good vault in the past two meets. This was going to be even more challenging at states because they knew the landing was difficult and she had not yet successfully completed the vault on a hard surface.

“The video of that moment captures it all; She was so proud of herself and I was beyond proud,” Paula Lupien said. “I was so happy to see her achieve a personal goal of hers and to be a small part of that journey was surreal. I replay that moment a lot in my personal time.”

Beyond gymnastics, Lexi Lupien is a member of the Spanish National Honors Society and the Science National Honors Society. She also received the Award of Excellence for Congress of Future Medical Leaders.

As soon as she saw mail on her table with a Harvard emblem on it, she thought there was no way it was for her. She turned it over and saw the Harvard Square Address on the back and was at a loss for words as to what it was for.

“When I opened and read the mail, it was astonishing. I will be able to listen to speeches from Nobel Peace Prize winners, watch live surgical procedures, and ask questions to medical leaders with their PhD’s in this field,” Lexi Lupien said. “This will be truly such an inspiring and eye-opening experience for me to get a taste of what my future could be like and I am so excited to attend.”

But, back to gymnastics.

Lexi Lupien is one of the captains for the Franklin squad, and despite being the daughter of the coach, her teammates do not have any complaints.

One in particular, Kate Rudolph, met Lexi at her first practice with the Panthers.

“She was the first person to help me get used to the new environment and showed me an entire side of gymnastics that I had never seen before. She also is the best at giving pep talks and helping me calm my nerves before meets,” Rudolph said. “It’s really cool to have someone who’s a team leader and one of my closest friends at the same time.”

Her leadership goes beyond pep talks and comes in her performances.

“Her floor routine always makes us smile,” teammate Caroline Woelfel said. “She brings energy to the gym and it’s fun to watch.”

The person who loves being on the gymnastics floor with her the most is her mother and coach. Having a mom as your coach means that gymnastics follows from meets to the home.

“I don’t think a day goes by where I don’t hear the word gymnastics,” Lexi Lupien said. “Whether it’s her watching videos from past competitions, finding new drills to do in practice for the next week, me choreographing routines, her asking questions/strategy for upcoming meets, etc. The gymnastics talk doesn’t stop; But I love it.”

Being in the same house as the coach, Lexi can see more than everyone else does involving coach Lupien. Some may not know it, but Paula Lupien works nearly 24/7 for her team and stays up late every night during the season, putting together her massive 4″ binder that keep track of everything.

“Even when we go to the beach in the summer, I can’t even do a basic skill such as a handstand without her correcting me on something,” Lexi Lupien said. “Her and I are always doing stuff outside the gym and around the house in support of the team and I’m glad I get to live in and around it.”

“To share in her success on the sideline is beyond magical for me,” Paula Lupien said. “It’s been a privilege to coach her as an athlete and as my daughter.”

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