Meet Other Wunderkinds

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Meet Karina

level 6 gymnast gymnastics girl team 12 year old 6th grade interview

Meet Karina! Karina is a 6th grader and passionate about gymnastics!  We interviewed her to find out what she loves about her sport.

 

What does an average day look like for you?

I’m homeschooled, so an average day is a little different for me compared to a normal 6th grader. I wake up, eat breakfast, and then start on my school. I get ready for gymnastics practice at 3:30 PM and leave the house at 4:00. Practice ends at 8:00 so I usually get home around 8:30. When I get home, I shower, eat dinner, and then go to bed.

 

  

How old were you when you started gymnastics?

I was 3 years old turning 4 very soon.

 

Tell us what inspired you to give gymnastics a try.

My mom signed me up for gymnastics. It was kind of like a gymnastics place for toddlers only. I loved doing it so my mom signed me up for real gymnastics.

 

Was there a moment you knew it had become your passion? If so, please tell us about that moment?

It was when I got my back-hip circle on the bar. At the time it was a really hard skill, considering I was 5. I never gave up and when I got it at practice, I was so excited. I wanted to learn more skills.

 

What do you like most about gymnastics?

I like learning new skills and being able to work them at practice. There are so many skills that you can learn in gymnastics. I always feel so happy even if it took days to get it or months to get it.    

 

 level 6 gymnast handstand on beam gymnastics girl team 12 year old 6th grade interview

Tell us about one of your favorite experiences or a favorite story you have had with gymnastics?

My favorite experience with gymnastics is when I got first place last season. It was for All-Around and it took me by complete surprise.

 

How does gymnastics challenge you?

It challenges me because in gymnastics there is no stopping; the only time you stop is when you are waiting in line. You work on an event until it’s time to rotate to another event, 10 second drink break and onto the next event. You also get very sore throughout the week. ALWAYS.

 

Is there a certain skill you are trying to achieve?

Yes. That skill is my series. It’s when you do 2 backflips on a 4 inch wide beam connected or back to back.

 

How many hours do you train per week?

16 hours every week.

 

What are 3 qualities a gymnast should possess?

A gymnast should always possess strength, bravery, and passion.

 

level 6 gymnast all state award gymnastics girl team 12 year old 6th grade interview 

Do you look up to elite and college gymnasts? Who is your role model?

My role model is Simone Biles.

 

What advice would you give someone who wants to become a gymnast?

I would tell them to never give up. Even when it’s hard. If you want to do gymnastics, you have to have a passion for it. Gymnastics isn’t a sport you can just do. It’s a very time consuming sport and if you are willing to give all your time and effort to being a gymnast, you can be a great one.

 

What are your goals with gymnastics? Do you wish to eventually be on a college team?

I do want to be on a college team.

 

Are there any other activities or sports you have tried or would like to try? Are you still involved in any of them?

When I was 2, I did dance, but I gave that up for gymnastics. When I was 5, I took swim classes. Again, gave that up for gymnastics. I’ve done a kids triathlon and thought it was fun. But if I were to try a new sport, it would probably be tennis or golf.

 

What life lessons have you learned from gymnastics?

I learned that if you want to be great, you have to work at it. Just like in all things, if things get hard, you have to push through it and get back up. You have to always be dedicated to what you are doing.

 

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Meet Jessica

story of high school volleyball player Jessica trophy team spike

 

Meet Jessica! Jessica is a freshman in high school and is passionate about volleyball. We interviewed her to find out what she loves about her sport.

 

story of high school volleyball player Jessica fierce

What does an average day look like for you?

 

Every week day I wake up at 7:00 to get ready for school. Before leaving I grab a Greek yogurt for breakfast. My school schedule includes CP Chemistry, Geometry, Creative Writing, Latin, pre AP English, and Oklahoma History. For lunch I have a sandwich with a side of cucumbers. Afterschool I work on my homework or other afterschool activities. Some of these activities are dance and volleyball. During club season volleyball practice tends to be from 7 to 9 twice a week. In addition to the preexisting practice schedule one hour of individual lessons a week is advised. During off season it is a priority to maintain physical activity and touches on the ball. I tend to enjoy crunches because they are easy to fit in a busy schedule and core work is vital in dance and volleyball.

 

How old were you when you started volleyball?

I was in third grade when we played a game of volleyball in PE. A parent at the school who was a volleyball coach happened to see me. She encouraged my mom to enroll me in junior jammers. In sixth grade I took it a step further by signing up for club ball. Club ball is a traveling team with elite coaches and select players. I was overjoyed to make the team when there was so much competition.

 

Tell us about what inspired you to give volleyball a try.

What inspired me to play volleyball? I guess having someone outside of my family believe in me. I felt special that someone had picked me out of a crowd. There is something incredible about being part of a team, being important. I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

 

Was there a moment when you knew it had become your passion? If so, please tell us about that moment?

There are so many athletes that can tell you exactly when they realized this is what they loved to do. For me it wasn’t an inspirational epiphany. It’s not a conclusion I came to only once in my life. Every time I step on the court it hits me; this is what I love. Every second I play is a reminder of my passion. I love the thrill of hitting the floor. It’s like you’re giving your all to get a ball up that no one thought you could.

 

Tell us about one of your favorite experiences or a favorite story you have had with volleyball?

My favorite memory is a little twisted. At practice my team and I were playing a hard core game of Texas tough. In a rush to save the ball I slammed to the ground. I was so focused on the task at hand I momentarily forgot about my safety. The dive resulted in me face planting. Grabbing my face I came back with a handful of blood. I rush off the court because it was against health code to get body fluids on the floor. I reach the bathroom to find my tooth through my lip. Pulling my lip over my tooth I wipe all of the remaining blood off of my face. Deciding I was good to go I make my way back to finish the game. Not even ten minutes in to play a girl shanks the ball which just so happened to hit me directly in the face. Standing up stunned I hear all the parents gasp as I was reinjured. I don’t know what compelled me to laugh. Maybe it was the look of horror on the girls face, or the simultaneous gasp from the viewers, I just remember thinking pain is temporary but this memory will last forever.

 

How does volleyball challenge you?

Volleyball pushes me to be better. I think the biggest challenge is the running aspect. Speed plays an important part in your performance. Endurance is another big factor, considering the fact that some tournaments are 12 hours. Most are a little bit more spaced out they tend to be 8 hours long for two days.

 

Is there a certain skill you are trying to achieve?

There’s not really a skill I wish to achieve. In truth I wish to improve at everything, push myself harder. I do have a goal though. I want killer abs. Haha I’m just joking… okay maybe I do.

 

How many hours do you train per week?

If you only count practice time I train 5 to 6 hours a week. Almost every weekend we have a tournament and tournaments tend to be anywhere between 9 to 16 hours.

 


story of high school volleyball player Jessica tough

 

What are three qualities a volleyball player should possess?

A volleyball player must be able to trust others. There are so many times you rely on your teammates. They must also do well under pressure. Must games are within a few points. People who crack under pressure would most likely drag the entire team down with them. Above all a volleyball player must be talkative. Most people don’t realize but hearing is a main part of volleyball. My eyes are on the ball; I’m not focusing on where you are on the court. That is why you must tell me. It can be a problem for soft spoken people when we are at big tournaments. This is because with 100 teams playing at the same time it’s hard to hear those around you. You may think I’m exaggerating but just last year at Texas shoot out there were 96 courts.

 

Do you look up to professional athletes in your sport? Who is your role model?

I don’t really have role models. Like yeah I want to be where they are at some day but I don’t want to be just like them. I don’t wish to be a copy of someone else. I want to inspire others to be like me. ;)

 

What advice would you give someone who wants to start playing volleyball?

My advice to others is, don’t give up. It took me years to develop my skills to the point they are now. Volleyball is a tricky sport and most moves take practice. People say practice makes perfect but that is not entirely true. It’s the want and need to get better that pushes us towards perfection. Also don’t limit yourself, work on skills outside of your comfort zone. Last but not least condition, you will need the strength and endurance.

 

What are your goals with volleyball? Do you wish to eventually be on a college team?

I wish to do what makes me happy. If I play for a team in college then great I’m sure I will love it. If not I’m still going to continue to play. I will play until I’m physically unable to do so. When I reach that point I will coach. I don’t want to think of that just yet because that will be quite tragic.

 

What life lessons have you learned from volleyball?

Volleyball has taught me to trust others. You can’t do everything by yourself and sometimes you need someone to back you up. I like to think it has also helped build relationships. I now know people who I would have never dreamed of talking to and I love them all.


Are there any other activities or sports you have tried or would like to try?   Are you still involved in any of them?

Volleyball is a big part of my life but I do enjoy other things to. I have been dancing since kindergarten. It is a great escape for me. Losing yourself in the music is a great stress reliever. I have tried other sports such as basketball and soccer. In the end I decided that if I was to get serious with a sport I had to pick one. Volleyball came out on top. I don’t know where I would be without it.

story of high school volleyball player Jessica team feet

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Meet Hannah

Meet Hannah! She is a 5th grade student who is an incredibly passionate swimmer.

 

What does an average day look like for you?

Go to school, go home and get ready for swim practice, every day.

 

How old were you when you started swimming?

I started swimming when I was 3, but I didn’t start competing until I was 8.

 

Tell us about what inspired you to give it a try.

My first coach Mr. John, because he was a good coach and taught me all that he could about the sport.

 

Was there a moment when you knew it had become your passion? If so, please tell us about that moment?

My first swim meet! I loved it. I knew then that this was my sport.

 

What do you like the most about swimming?

It is hard work, it’s full time and you get to spend a lot of time with your friends.

 

wunderkind swimming young girl with a passion 

 

Tell us about one of your favorite experiences or favorite memory you have had with swimming?  

My first state qualifying time. It was a crazy event. My favorite stroke, the 50 fly; I went off the block and my goggles broke. I wanted that state time cut so bad, though, so I just went as fast as I could and made it! It was my best swim ever.

 

How does swimming challenge you?

It challenges me to work harder and I am always hungry!

 

Is there a certain skill you are trying to achieve?

I want to make my zones time cut.

 

How many hours to you train per week?

I train 7 hours a week.

 

What are three qualities an athlete in your sport should possess?

They should have endurance, speed and passion.

 

Do you look up to professional swimmers? Who is your role model?

Yes, I have four: Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin, Katie Ledecky and Ryan Lochte. Katie is awesome because she has brought passion to the long distance events, plus she is so young.

 

What advice would you give someone who wants to start swimming competitively?

Get ready for a lot of hunger and hard practices.

 

What are your goals with your sport? Do you wish to eventually be on a college team?

Yes! I want to swim for Stanford.

 

What life lessons have you leaned from swimming?

Math, there is a lot of math in swimming. Also, time management. I have practice every day of the week, so I have to stay ahead on my school work.

 

Are you involved in any other activities or sports?

Nope, no time. Swimming is all the time.

Meet Lauren

Meet Lauren! Lauren is a 6th grade student who loves running and soccer so much, she can’t choose between the two.

 

What does an average day look like for you? 

I wake up, go to school, after school I have either soccer practice, art club, or I train at our home track.

 

How old were you when you started your sports?

I started soccer when I was 5 years old and started running at 8.

 

Tell us about what inspired you to give it a try. 

My parents told me I needed to pick a sport/activity and I really loved soccer.

 

Was there a moment when you knew it had become your passion?

Not really, my passion for running is just getting started. I have been running a lot of 5Ks and I really like that.

 

What do you like the most about running and soccer?

They’re fun and challenging.

 

lauren running and soccer player wunderkinds 

 

Is there a coach you have had who really made an impact on your life?

I loved my U9-U10 soccer coach Jordan White. She was a great coach and I felt that she helped me the most in my sport.

 

How does running and soccer challenge you?

You have to have endurance and will to want to finish.

 

Is there a certain skill you are trying to achieve?

I want to run 10Ks and maybe one day a marathon with my dad.

 

How many hours to you train per week?

I train 3-4 hours per week.

 

What are three qualities an athlete in your sports should possess? 

Energy, passion and drive.

 

Do you look up to professional athletes in your sports?

Not really. I just enjoy playing my sport.

 

What advice would you give someone who wants to start playing soccer or running?

Have fun, play hard and be strong.

 

What are your goals with your sports? Do you wish to eventually be on a college team?

I don’t want to play college in soccer, but running is something that I will want to do for a while. Eventually I want to be able to race mountain and trail races.

 

What life lessons have you learned from your sport?

Working as a team definitely with soccer. With running, I think is just managing your pace/time.

 

Are you involved in any other activities or sports?

Yes, art club, student council, school safety patrol. I used to dance and perform in plays and stuff. I liked that, but there just isn’t enough time.

 

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