Q: Do you have a nickname?
Q: When and why did you first become interested in gymnastics?
“I started gymnastics at 4 years old. All four of my older siblings were already in gymnastics because my parents said we had to do a sport and stick with it so I thought, ‘I want to do what my older siblings do.’ So I started with gymnastics, and I had to stick with it through thick and thin.”
Q: Do you have any good/funny memories from when you first started taking gymnastics classes?
“Thinking back to it, I didn’t have any control over my movements, and I had no body awareness. When I was 7 years old, I remember walking out to the floor and tripping before I even started my routine. It didn’t even faze me because I didn’t even know what I was doing.”
Q: When did you decide you wanted to compete?
“When I was about 6, I started to compete. I knew I wanted to compete because all my older siblings were getting awards and medals.”
And, when did you want to compete on the elite level? What about competition appeals to you?
“I always had someone to look up to in my family so they influenced me into wanting to compete at a higher level. I love meeting new people and traveling to new places that I’ve never been.”
Q: What is your training regimen?
“I only train for 22 and a half hours a week, and once I get there we stretch, then normally start on vault. Then, we condition for about 45 minutes. After conditioning, we do the other three events for 45 minutes each, and we finish off with some more conditioning.”
Was that a big change when you made the switch to competitive gymnastics?
“When I was younger, I used to do more hours because I was training TOPs and trying to become an Elite, but once I figured out what I wanted to accomplish, we backed down on the hours and just tried to stay healthy.”
Q: What is your favorite event?
Q: What is your favorite skill?
“Doing as many twists as I can.”
Q: What music do you use for your floor routine?
“Classical music, like the electric violin.”
Q: Who is your favorite gymnast or who is your “idol”?
“I love Kyla Ross. But I enjoy watching Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin.”
Q: How have you grown as a gymnast during your career, both skill wise and mentally?
“I’ve become more independent and motivated to be the best I can be. It’s encouraging to know that I am inspiring younger gymnasts that look up to me.”
Q: How has gymnastics helped you as a person?
“Gymnastics has helped me into becoming the person I am today. Gym has made me realize that not everything is as easy as it seems and that hard work pays off.”
Q: If you had to select one life-lesson that gymnastics has taught you, what would it be?
Q: What are your biggest accomplishments or best memories in your career?
“Winning the 2013 J.O. Nationals, making it to the Nastia Cup for the third time, and receiving a full-ride scholarship to the University of Utah for gymnastics.”
Q: What are your favorite subjects in school?
“I like doing electives, like ceramics and sign language.”
Q: If you plan to go to college, do you know what you want to study there?
“I want to study physical therapy.”
Q: What are your goals for the future, both as an athlete and after you are finished competing?
“My goal is to just stay healthy in college and do everything to the best of my ability.”
Q: When you’re not in the gym, how do you enjoy spending your time? Do you have any hobbies or favorite activities?
“I enjoy spending time with family and friends, but when I’m not hanging out I just like to stay at home to relax and read.”
Q: What is your favorite food?
“My dad’s food.”
Q: What is your favorite movie?
“I don’t really have a favorite. I like watching science fiction and love stories.”
Q: What is your favorite book?
“I love Divergent, the Mortal Instruments series, The Infernal Devices, and The Hunger Games.”
Q: Who is your favorite music group/artist?
Q: Are any of your family members current or former athletes? Which sports?
“I have four older siblings –two brothers and two sisters. They were all former gymnasts, and they all were Level 10. They never made it to college gymnastics because, unfortunately, they got injured.”
Q: Do you have any competition rituals? Lucky charms?
“Every night before the meet I wear a certain lotion called ‘Pure Seduction’ from Victoria’s Secret. And the day of the competition, I eat Subway.”
Q: What’s on your IPod right now? What type of music do you enjoy listening to? How about before a meet when you’re trying to get focused and pumped up?
“I mostly have Taylor Swift and One Direction. But I also have Demi Lovato, Little Mix, and mostly pop music. I listen to them when I get ready.”
Q: If you had to pick 3 words to describe yourself as a gymnast, what are they?
“Inspirational, humble, and classy.”
Q: What 3 words describe you as a person, not the gymnast?
“Honest, sweet or kind, and a hard-worker.”
By Lauren Ely
Kari Lee is a simple teenager. She likes shopping with her sisters, reading and gymnastics.
She’s read both the Twilight and Hunger Games series and enjoys shopping at the Nike Outlet and Hollister with her sisters, but on most days, Lee can be found at the gym.
“I’m a boring person outside the gym,” Lee said. “I’m like a nerd; I really am.”
Lee, 16, lives in Peoria, Ariz., and trains at Flames Gymnastics under Attila Szentes. She comes from a family full of gymnasts. Her mother owns Flames Gymnastics, and her four siblings – Jason, Toby, Serrena and Codee – all competed at Level 10.
Unlike most gymnasts, her favorite event is beam.
“I love beam,” Lee said. “It just comes easy to me.”
Lee has already won three competitions this year: The IGI Chicago Style Gymnastics Meet, the Parkettes Invitational and the Arizona Grand Invitational. But the wins mean more than just any other “W.” Last summer, she faced a debilitating injury when she rolled both ankles doing a whip back and thought about quitting.
“My mom never let me [quit] because she didn’t want me to end the sport hating it because of an injury,” Lee said. “For a while, I didn’t do that skill because I got flashback memories from it, but now I just do it. I don’t even think about it.”
Lee is now verbally committed to the University of Arizona, where she hopes to compete as an all-around gymnast. She would like to study something in the medical field such as pharmacology or anesthesiology.
By Romy Schwaiger
Kari Lee is following in the footsteps of her four older siblings, her brothers, Jason and Toby, and her sisters, Serrena and Codee. They have all been Level 10 gymnasts, and, now, so is Kari.
“My mom said we had to do a sport. All my other siblings were in gymnastics, so I was put in gymnastics, too,” Kari says.
And that’s how she got her start in gymnastics when she was just 4 years old.
Now 15 years old, Kari, from Peoria, Ariz., says that gymnastics gives her something to do on a daily basis, “and I get to hang out with my friends at the gym.”
She practices at the Flames Gymnastics Academy in Peoria, under coach Jeff Summers. 2012 is her third season as a Level 10 gymnast.
Her favorite event is beam because “it’s easier to me than the other events.”
Her biggest accomplishment is winning the all-around state title three years in a row. “I want to be like my older brother, who is 23 years old now. He won the state championships three years in a row, and I want to beat his record.”
Kari qualified for the Nastia Liukin Cup at the Arizona Sunrays Classic Rock Invitational in Glendale, Ariz., where she finished in first place on beam and second place in the all-around. Her goal for the Nastia Liukin Cup event in New York City is to “hit every event and do the best I can,” she says.
Before meets, Kari likes to read, especially the Twilight series, The Hunger Games series or Vampire Diaries.
In her free time, she likes to hang out with her gym friends, watch movies and have sleepovers.