Q: When and why did you first become interested in gymnastics?
A: I started crawling at two months and walking at 7. I could hold on to a bar, suspended in the air, for several minutes at a time before I was a year old. My parents knew I was strong and thought it might be something I’d do well at.
Q: Do you have any good/funny memories from when you first started taking gymnastics classes?
A: I started competing at Naperville Gymnastics as a Level 4. I don’t remember a lot about it, but at my first competition, I started on beam. I went to salute and just started crying. Coach Shannon talked to the judges, and they let me go last. I cried through my whole routine. But, I did it and haven’t had a problem competing since, at least with crying!
Q: When did you decide you wanted to compete?
A: My family moved to Illinois, and my mom took me to Naperville Gymnastics. They put me in a Mighty Mites class and then about two weeks later asked if I wanted to join the team. It just evolved from there. I love to compete with my friends and meet new people. I also like pushing myself to learn new skills and compete to the best of my ability.
Q: What is your training regimen? Was that a big change when you made the switch to competitive gymnastics?
A: I train six days a week, Monday through Saturday, 4 to 4 ½ hours a day. I have always been in competitive gymnastics, so I don’t remember any big changes.
Q: What is your favorite event? Bars
A: What is your favorite skill? The Shaposhnikova, I love doing it and look forward to when my coach allows me to compete it. At the Buckeye Classic this year, Coach Ludmilla introduced my teammate, Melissa, and me to Natalia Shaposhnikova. Since we both perform her skill, it was fun to meet and have our picture taken with her.
Q: What music do you use for your floor routine?
A: Beethoven Virus, I like the music because it’s more mature than what I’ve had in the past, and it is powerful.
Q: Who is your favorite gymnast or who is your “idol”?
A: There are several gymnasts that I love to watch. However, my favorite is probably Shawn Johnson. She seems humble and so down to earth. She is such a powerful gymnast and seems genuinely happy. Also, she likes to ski, and I love to ski, too.
Q: How have you grown as a gymnast during your career, both skill wise and mentally?
A: I’ve grown skill wise a lot since I have been at Southeastern through lots of drills and practice. Gymnastics has taught me that I can’t just give up and that the hard days make the good days even better.
Q: How has gymnastics helped you as a person?
A: I think gymnastics has taught me to stay in the game even when life gets tough!
Q: If you had to select one life-lesson that gymnastics has taught you, what would it be?
A: Never give up. Period. End of story!
Q: What are your biggest accomplishments or best memories in your career?
A: My biggest accomplishments are verbally committing to the University of Utah and going to Junior Olympic Nationals in my first Level 10 season. I am also super excited to be going to the Nastia Liukin Cup.
Q: What grade are you in school, and where do you go to school?
A: I am a sophomore at Weddington High School in Weddington, N.C.
Q: Do you want to compete in collegiate gymnastics?
A: I am verbally committed to the University of Utah. I was born in Utah but moved to Illinois when I was 5. My dad is military, so we have moved a few times. He has to move this year, but the rest of us are staying back so I can finish school at Weddington and stay at Southeastern.
Q: What are your favorite subjects, etc.?
A: I love anatomy, physiology and math. I love being able to work for an answer.
Q: If you plan to go to college, do you know what you want to study there?
A: I have had a few injuries and appreciate what physical therapy has done for me. My physical therapist, Daryl, is amazing. I want to be a physical therapist like him; he is kind, patient, and very good at what he does. In the future, I hope to help gymnasts and others have less pain and help them prevent injuries.
Q: What are your goals for the future, both as an athlete and after you are finished competing?
A: Well, I hope to have a successful collegiate career and maintain good grades. School is very important to me, and I always want to do my best. I will have to see where life takes me.
Q: When you’re not in the gym, how do you enjoy spending your time? Do you have any hobbies or favorite activities?
A: I go to early morning Bible study every weekday at 6:30 a.m. From there, I go to school and then to gym until 7:30 or 8:30 p.m. I get home in time to eat and do homework. It leaves very little time to do much outside of gym. When I do find a spare minute, I love to do crafts and hangout with my family and friends. I do charity work through my church.
Q: What is your favorite food?
A: Watermelon and steak.
Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: Mama Mia!
Q: What is your favorite music group?
A: I like country.
Q: Are any of your family members current or former athletes? Which sports?
A: My dad swam in high school and did triathlons. My mom played high school basketball and participated in track. My brother played football in Texas and is a fencer.
Q: Do you have any competition rituals? Lucky charms?
A: No, not really but I like to eat steak after a meet. I like to eat steak anytime.
Q: What’s on your iPod right now? What type of music do enjoy listening to? How about before a meet when you’re trying to get focused and pumped up?
A: I just listen to Pandora, which is mostly Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley.
Q: If you had to pick 3 words to describe yourself as a gymnast, what are they?
A: Tough, hard-working and dedicated
Q: What 3 words describe you as a person, not the gymnast?
A: Thoughtful, creative and happy