Q: Do you have a nickname?
“Most people call me Bridgie.”
Q: When and why did you first become interested in gymnastics?
“I was like 7 when I became interested in gymnastics. My mom was a gymnast, so she would teach me skills in the background, like a round off, back handspring or doing bars on the tree. And she thought I should start actually going to a gym to try, and I’ve just loved it since.”
Q: Do you have any good/funny memories from when you first started taking gymnastics classes?
“I remember the first competition, I was Level 4, and I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do on vault, so I just ran down and stood there. I was thinking, ‘What was I supposed to do?’ and my coach had to tell me.”
Q: When did you decide you wanted to compete?
“I wanted to compete when I started in the YMCA, and they had a team and you had to try out for it. I wasn’t sure what I was trying out for, at first, but I wanted to compete. When I tried out and learned about the levels and stuff, I wanted to compete and get all the medals and trophies.
And, when did you want to compete on the elite level? What about competition appeals to you?
“When I was about 9 years old. I really wanted to push myself to the furthest level I could go to see if I could achieve my goals. I love when you just finish an event, what you’ve been training, and it is just the best feeling, because you’ve been training so hard for it, and it just pays off. That’s what I like about competing.”
Q: What is your favorite event?
“My favorite event is bars.”
Q: What is your favorite skill?
“Hindorff on the bars.”
Q: What music do you use for your floor routine?
“It’s called ‘Hand of Might.'”
Q: Who is your favorite gymnast or who is your “idol”?
“My favorite gymnast is probably Georgia Wheeler.”
Q: How have you grown as a gymnast during your career, both skill wise and mentally?
“I think I grew stronger, not just physically but mentally. It really helps your determination and commitment and it makes everything, in your whole life, easier, because you’ve gone through so much in your younger age.”
Q: How has gymnastics helped you as a person?
“Personally, I think it actually helps me to never give up on anything. Either in gymnastics or in school or in anything else in your life. It just teaches you that you can do whatever you put your mind to.”
Q: If you had to select one life-lesson that gymnastics has taught you, what would it be?
“Feed your confidence, and starve your fear.”
Q: What are your biggest accomplishments or best memories in your career?
“My best accomplishments were probably when I qualified to the P&G Gymnastics Championships in 2013 and also qualifying for the Nastia Liukin Cup a year ago.”
Q: Do you want to compete in collegiate gymnastics?
Q: What are your favorite subjects in school?
“My favorite subject is science.”
Q: If you plan to go to college, do you know what you want to study there?
“I definitely want to pick something in the medical area. I’ve been wanting to do that for a while.”
Q: What are your goals for the future?
“My goals are to be a doctor. In gymnastics, I want to compete and be on the U.S. National Team and compete internationally.”
Q: When you’re not in the gym, how do you enjoy spending your time? Do you have any hobbies or favorite activities?
“I love going to the beach. I’m a prolific reader, and often, shopping.”
Q: What is your favorite food?
Q: What is your favorite movie?
“My favorite movie is Hunger Games.”
Q: What is your favorite book?
Q: Who is your favorite music group/artist?
“I like Florence, from Florence and the Machine.”
Q: Are any of your family members current or former athletes? Which sports?
“Yeah. My mother, she was a tennis player, a gymnast, and a golfer. She did a lot of sports. My dad was a football player. He played for Mississippi State. And my sister is a basketball player. And my brother is a football player.”
Q: Do you have any competition rituals? Lucky charms?
“In the actual meet, I have a lot. I have to have the bar mats facing a certain way. It’s different each meet. I can’t have any of the chalk on the beam; I have to wipe it off. And I always have to listen to music before the meet. When I’m stretching, there’s music in my ears, always.”
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 like literally everything. I have Florence and the Machine, the Lumineers. I do like Kesha. I like listening to Kesha before a meet.”
Q: If you had to pick 3 words to describe yourself as a gymnast, what are they?
“Determined, powerful, and enthusiastic.”
Q: What 3 words describe you as a person, not the gymnast?
“Silly, laid back, and a hair of crazy in there.”
By Lauren Ely
Kim Dean always knew her daughter would be a gymnast.
“I have three kids,” Dean said. “You could just tell by her body type.”
Bridget Dean, 14, began training at a gym at age 7, but she had already mastered a back handspring.
Out in the front yard, Dean and her mom would practice in the grass. Once she stuck the landing to her back handspring, her mom enrolled her in classes.
Between different knee, back and foot injuries, Dean was out of competition for nearly two years. The 2013 Sand Dollar Whitlow Invitational was the first meet back, and she qualified for the Nastia Liukin Cup.
Before the injuries, Dean trained at national team workouts and internationally at the elite level. She says the CoverGirl Classic is her most memorable moment competing.
“Just being on podium,” Dean said. “It’s really cool to walk up the stairs to salute and to be above everyone.”
Dean would like to continue her path as an elite gymnast. The Fort Myers, Fla., native trains at Orlando Metro Gymnastics nearly eight hours a day, fitting school in between training. Bars and beam are her favorite events to compete, and if you watch Dean before a beam routine, she’s likely wiping off all the chalk. She has to or it distracts her.
One day, Dean hopes to join the national team and make it to the Olympics, but she knows it will take big-time commitment.
“It takes a lot of effort, commitment and passion, and if you don’t have, it’s not really worth it,” Dean said. “I love gymnastics. I’m appreciative of my mom, who got me into it, and hopefully, I can make my goals.”