LDS athlete wins spot on U.S. National Gymnastics Team
It's easy. Send a link to the story you were just reading to a friend. Just fill out the form on this page and we'll send it along.
LDS gymnast has been selected as a member of the U.S. National Gymnastics Team.
MyKayla, of the Chaparral Ward, Gilbert Arizona Higley Stake, is known for her ability to perform difficult skills, such as the double twisting double back. “Only three girls in the country perform that skill,” said Lisa Spini, coach and owner of Desert Lights Gymnastics, where MyKayla trains.
At 4-foot-9, MyKayla is earning the reputation of being a petite powerhouse. As a member of the U.S. National Team, she hopes to compete in the Olympic Games next summer in London.
MyKayla, a 14-year-old high school freshman, started training at Desert Lights three years ago. In her first season there, she progressed from being a level 8 gymnast, through level 9 and 10 to the elite level. She is the first gymnast to make such dramatic progress to the elite level in a single season.
“To compete at this level is extraordinary. To achieve this level in such a short time is unheard of,” her coach said. “MyKayla is very focused, and very hard working. It requires hours and hours of practice — doing it when you’re tired or not feeling well. She’s an extraordinary athlete.”
“I like working on new skills,” MyKayla said. “But they’re scary. I pray a lot — for safety, strength, confidence and success — and then I tell myself that I can do it.”
MyKayla attends Higley High School in Gilbert in the mornings, with released-time seminary being her last class. After lunch, she goes to the gym where she trains for seven to eight hours every day.
“It’s such a blessing that I’m in seminary right before I go to the gym,” MyKayla said. “I used to feel so stressed about going to train. In seminary I feel the Spirit, which helps me feel peaceful. I’m much calmer now.”
“MyKayla is a world-class athlete, excellent student and a remarkable young lady,” said Larry Rother, Higley High School’s principal. “We will all be watching and cheering her on as she competes on the international stage. The entire Higley community is proud of MyKayla’s accomplishments.”
“We pray for MyKayla’s success, as she strives to perform at her highest potential,” said President Jay Andersen of the Gilbert Arizona Higley Stake.
MyKayla enjoys the support of the young women in the Chaparral Ward. “I’m always excited to go to youth activities. I love my leaders,” she said. “My friends at Church are different — instead of being competitive, they are very caring and supportive.”
Named to the team on Aug. 22, she will attend monthly national team training camps in Houston beginning in November. The Olympic team will be selected from members of the national team in July 2012.
MyKayla credits big sisters Chelsea and Katie for helping her persist through challenging times. Both were gymnasts when MyKayla was still in a stroller. “They are always encouraging me,” MyKayla said. “It’s great to have sisters who understand the sport.”