Jumping For Gold

Tips and tricks on trampolining from Emerson Sonoda


Photo: Matthew Sage

Sonoda practices at his trampoline gym in Bellevue.

One University Prep athlete is reaching heights never imagined. Senior Emerson Sonoda competes in an uncommon sport: trampolining.

“I’ve been doing trampolining officially since ninth grade,” Sonoda said. “But before that, I would just do flips and parkour on my own, not competitively, since fourth or fifth grade.”

Before moving to Seattle, Sonoda lived in Hong Kong, where his love for the sport began.

“I found myself at a trampoline park a lot of the time, and I had a good time there just training skills,” Sonoda said. “Then I moved here, and I was looking for a place to do the same thing. But I ended up finding a gym and a coach who was really excited about my flips. He was very confident in my abilities.”

As a freshman and sophomore, Sonoda competed at state and regional levels through USA Gymnastics. In his junior year, he traveled to a national competition in St. Louis, MO, and placed fifth in the nation for trampolining. Judges evaluate competitors based on their form, the difficulty of their tricks and the execution of their routines. However, Sonoda doesn’t do trampolining for the trophies or awards.

“I like the adrenaline associated with it,” Sonoda said. “I just have a lot of fun doing it. It has brought me into a lot of communities that I’m really glad to be in.”

Inspired by Sonoda, we went to experience this adrenaline for ourselves, finding a place to trampoline. Instead of jumping on your bed till you break the springs or a bone, head to a trampoline gym like DEFY Seattle, in Tukwila.

Getting on the trampoline, we were scared even to jump high. Sonoda started us simple, teaching us the technique of jumping high by tucking our legs in on the way up.

However, we quickly graduated to more complex tricks, guided through both a front flip and a backflip. Out of fear of injury and lack of experience, the idea of a flip never crossed our mind before, but with the help of Sonoda and the comfort of a foam pit, we decided to try. Jumping as high as we could, tucking our knees together and thrusting backward, we had completed our first flips.

Parkour was next; starting simple, we learned parkour rolls, where you immediately roll over your right shoulder, absorbing the impact. After a few rolls and wall runs, Sonoda showed us how to walk across the bar. After completing a front flip, backflip and parkour roll, we felt unstoppable; but when told to stand eight feet above the ground while attempting to walk across a 4-inch thick metal bar, we called it a day.

The day was a success. We conquered fears, learned new skills and tested our limits. This would not have been possible without the help of Sonoda’s years spent learning trampolining. So even though we loved it, if you have a fear of heights or risks in general and no one to teach you, a trampoline park may not be the best place for you.