Q: Do you have a nickname?
“No I don’t. When I was little, everybody called me Mighty Mouse, but it hasn’t stuck.”
Q: When and why did you first become interested in gymnastics?
“When I was about 6 or 7 years old, I was invited to a Level 4 competition by my mom’s colleagues at work. When I saw the competition, I just fell in love with the sport. The girl I was watching just looked like she was having a good time…the competition just looked fun. Who doesn’t want to flip around?”
Q: Do you have any good/funny memories from when you first started taking gymnastics classes?
“At my first Level 5 meet, when I switched to my new gym, I did a seal slide on the vaults during warm-ups. When I completed vault afterwards, I got my first high score. I did really well! So I thought that was funny after what I’d done during warm-ups.”
Q: When did you decide you wanted to compete?
“When I switched to the gym I’m at now, they were really excited about me. I really felt like my coaches here were ready to see me compete and thought I could do really good. Ever since then it’s kind of come naturally.”
And, when did you want to compete on the elite level? What about competition appeals to you?
“The competition is so much stronger. It challenges you more, and you get to meet people that are better than you, and it just pushes you harder and you just want to strive to become the best.”
Q: What is your training regimen?
“I come in to practice at 3:00 p.m., and we leave around 7:30 p.m., and that’s Monday through Friday. On Saturdays, we come in 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.”
Was that a big change when you made the switch to competitive gymnastics?
“Well, it was different because when I was younger I played soccer and tennis. Those sports just didn’t seem to move fast enough for me. When I pushed to gymnastics, it just seemed like the right fit because there was never a day when I was just sitting at home doing nothing. It just felt natural to compete in something that I loved. This was the first sport I felt I belonged to.”
Q: What is your favorite event?
“Floor. I like to dance, and I feel like it’s easy for me to show my personality through my dance. I love tumbling and flying high.”
Q: What is your favorite skill?
“My double layout on the floor.”
Q: What music do you use for your floor routine?
“I found a hip hop mix on YouTube. It doesn’t have a specific name, it’s just a mix.”
Q: Who is your favorite gymnast or who is your “idol”?
“I would have to say Shawn Johnson. I just felt like we were kind of similar in a way. We’re both short and stocky, and I just loved her tumbling on floor. It’s just something I strive to be; I strive to be like her.”
Q: How have you grown as a gymnast during your career, both skill wise and mentally?
“Skill wise, I feel like I’ve entered a whole new level this year. I’ve put some new stuff into my routines. Last year, I wasn’t as strong in my routines as I am now. I feel like I’ve ready for the college level, now. Mentally, I’ve definitely grown as a person. I feel I’m able to handle situations other people wouldn’t be able to, and gymnastics has just prepared me for life.”
Q: How has gymnastics helped you as a person?
“It’s made me stronger. We definitely have to give up so much stuff that we’d like to do. I go to a public high school so my friends get to go out, hang out, have fun all the time. And they ask me to come out, but I have to say, ‘I have practice.’ So that can be hard. But gymnastics is going to take me far and where I want to be. Just making sacrifices in everyday life for things that will benefit you.”
Q: If you had to select one life-lesson that gymnastics has taught you, what would it be?
“To never give up and keep striving for your goals no matter how hard it may be or seem to be.”
Q: What are your biggest accomplishments or best memories in your career?
“I would say my biggest accomplishment was when I was in eighth grade. I qualified for the Nastia Cup then, also, and I competed there. Then, late in my junior year, I committed to University of Denver for a full ride scholarship. And, I signed back in November and fully committed to the school.”
Q: What are your favorite subjects in school?
“I love science.”
Q: If you plan to go to college, do you know what you want to study there?
“I want to study biology when I get to college.”
Q: What are your goals for the future, both as an athlete and after you are finished competing?
“Eventually, I definitely would still like to be involved in gymnastics, somehow. I’d like to be an orthopedic doctor and work with sports teams and be around gymnastics, and maybe even an NFL team. That’s definitely my biggest goal, to work with an NFL team.”
Q: When you’re not in the gym, how do you enjoy spending your time? Do you have any hobbies or favorite activities?
“I like to go to the beach, just hang out with my friends, just enjoy every minute I can get with them since I’ll be leaving soon. And spending time with family. That’s about it.”
“I helped with the Special Olympics. I was a buddy with some of the special needs students at school, and we take them through the Olympics courses. I’ve done that for the past four years while I’ve been in high school.”
Q: What is your favorite food?
“My favorite food would have to be strawberries.”
Q: What is your favorite movie?
“The first ‘Fast and the Furious’ movie.”
Q: What is your favorite book?
“My favorite book would have to be The Hunger Games.”
Q: Who is your favorite music group/artist?
“I really like Trey Songz and Usher.”
Q: Are any of your family members current or former athletes? Which sports?
“Both of my parents played soccer. My dad still plays soccer for semi-pro teams. He lives in Tampa, now. So, he plays for a team with Haitian members; they’re called the Haitian Premiere Group.”
Q: Do you have any competition rituals? Lucky charms?
“I definitely like eating pancakes in the morning before my competitions. And if we’re driving to the meet that day, I just sleep in the car and listen to my music on the way in and just get focused and ready to go.”
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’d have to say Drake, Trey Songz, Usher, Beyonce, some Tiga. Basically hip hop artists and rap artists. And some occasional country music [laughs].”
Q: If you had to pick 3 words to describe yourself as a gymnast, what are they?
“Committed, powerful, and strong.”
Q: What 3 words describe you as a person, not the gymnast?
“Goofy, lovable, and caring.”