Logan Dooley works on his tampoline routine during practice at World Elite… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)
Logan Dooley is a favorite to represent the United States as the men's trampoline competitor this summer at the Olympics.
He is the first American man to win a gold medal at a World Cup event and that makes him at least a bit of a threat to be on the London medal podium, which would be considered quite an upset.
But here he was, less than three months before the Olympics, giving a lesson to 4-year-old Soheil Ghavami at World Elite Gymnastics in Rancho Santa Margarita.
Soheil's mother, Minoo Ghavami of Mission Viejo, was clapping her hands when Dooley would pat Soheil on the back or whisper an instruction in his ear.
"This is our first lesson with Logan Dooley," Minoo said. "We were up all night we were so excited. We knew about him but didn't know he was here. Even when I called for a lesson and they said, 'The coach is Logan,' I didn't put two and two together, that this is Logan from the national team.
"All my son wanted was to learn how to flip like Nani from the Manchester United soccer team. 'Flip like Nani,' Soheil kept saying to me."
Nani's flips aren't trampoline-powered but they also don't fly Nani close to 30 feet in the air.
And he only does one.
Let Dooley explain his competitive trampoline routine, the one he will perform next month in San Jose where he is a favorite to win the U.S. Olympic trials.
"I'll be doing a three-triple routine," said Dooley, a 24-year-old from Lake Forest.
"I'll start out with three triple somersaults followed by seven double flips and end with a triple twisting double layout," he said.
That's not easy to picture, even if you're watching Dooley perform it. And unlike other sports, in which if you make a mistake you can continue, in trampoline, if you fall off, you're done.
So when Dooley describes his most important skill as "consistency," he isn't trying to be modest.
"It doesn't help if you do an almost-perfect routine every time but don't finish or do some spectacular skills and don't finish," he said. "If you don't finish, you're finished. I've competed and done really, really hard skills but for me consistency is the key."
Peter Dodd, one of Dooley's coaches, said there is more to Dooley's talent than not falling off the equipment.
"He has such a smooth style," Dodd said. "He just floats in the air. Some people make certain things look easy. Logan can make this sport look easy, almost too easy."
And it seems fair that jumping on the trampoline felt easy to Dooley because he has struggled in his life with dyslexia, severe enough that when he was a child, other children mocked him. Dooley said that maybe it was the dyslexia that propelled him to jump and jump on his bed until his parents, Jim and Nancy, decided to buy him a backyard trampoline.
"I don't know what it was," Dooley said, "but I always seemed to know that when I was in the air, I could do anything. I could figure things out, see things. I could imagine myself doing the tricks."
Dooley doesn't only teach lessons to help support himself. He performs at fairs and halftime shows of sporting events. If he qualifies for the Olympics, though, it won't be to up his income-earning opportunity.
"The Olympics, to me, is pride," Dooley said. "It's a life accomplishment. It's what I've been struggling for, what I've worked for. It's a symbol of dedication and it's to represent your country. For me, it would mean the world."