Watch intro videos shown in the venue at the 2011 Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup
By Kate Guerra
At only 14 years-old, Mackenzie Brannan already has lofty goals for her gymnastics career. She wants to work hard enough to earn a spot on the U.S. National Team, and has a list of college teams she would love to compete for when it comes time for her to go to college. She started gymnastics when she was five years old and joined Capital Gymnastics in Austin, Texas.
"My mom put me in a combination dance class," Brannan said. "First there was tap class, and then ballet, and then five minutes of tumbling at the end. And that's all I wanted to go for."
Brannan qualified for the Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup at the Pike's Peak Cup. At the most recent Nadia Comaneci Invite, she won the all-around by two points, bringing home a total of three gold medals and a silver medal.
In 2010, she placed fourth on uneven bars at the Visa Championships. She points towards her determination and drive as her greatest assets in gymnastics, something that her coach, Barry Hyder, noted as well.
She loves crafts and drawing, and her favorite subject in school is geometry. When she is not training, she enjoys playing with her dogs at home and going out with her friends.
By Kate Guerra
It is safe to say that genetics had a large influence on Georgia Dabritz's passion for gymnastics. Her parents were both involved in the sport, as were her older brother and sister, so it was no surprise when Ace Gymnastics found yet another star in Georgia.
The 18-year-old qualified for the Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup at the Flip Fest Invitational in Knoxville, Tenn. this past January. Her favorite events are the uneven bars and floor exercise, and she can perform a Comaneci release on bars. Dabritz spends about 27 hours a week in the gym with coach Laura Tebo, who has been with her since day one.
Ace Gymnastics is a training center located in Ipswitch, Mass. Dabritz was three years old when she began her training there, and soon developed into a promising young gymnast. Over time, Tebo knew she had a special athlete on her hands.
"She definitely never gives up," Tebo said. "She will fight through."
Dabritz began training to be an elite gymnast five years ago. Since then, she has competed at the 2009 Junior Olympic National Championships and the 2009 Visa Championships, where she placed seventh on bars. At the 2010 Visa Championships this past August, she placed eleventh in the all-around.
In 2009, Dabritz received a full scholarship to the University of Utah, following in the footsteps of her older brother who currently competes for the University of Minnesota.
"Right now, [competing in college] is my ultimate gymnastics goal," Dabritz said.
Dabritz is a senior in high school who loves to shop—especially at her favorite store, Forever 21. She enjoys school and performs well in her academics, but if you ask her if she would rather to be at school or in the gym, she won't hesitate to let you know that gymnastics is where her heart is.
By Kate Guerra
When Ashley Lambert came to World Class Gymnastics after learning the basics from a recreational program, coach and gym owner Tami Harrison knew it was going to take time to retool Lambert's technique, which was rough.. Little did Harrison know that in a matter of a few short years, Lambert would be one of her most promising gymnasts.
"All the sudden she just bloomed," Harrison said. "She became this strong, talented, young athlete."
At just 15 years-old, Lambert is a Level 10 gymnast who has already accomplished many extraordinary things in her short career. She won the 2009 Level 10 State Championships and the 2009 Regional all-around title. She was second on vault, uneven bars and floor exercise, as well as placed ninth on vault and fifth on floor, at the 2009 Junior Olympic National Championships;. In the summer of 2009, she went on to compete at the elite level and took sixth on vault at the 2009 U.S. Classic and seventh on vault at the Visa Championships. She qualified for the Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup at the 2011 Parkettes Invitational in late January.
Lambert came to World Class Gymnastics in 2006. She is coached by Harrison on balance beam and floor and Jon Angle on vault and uneven bars. Her favorite event is floor, and she is working hard on several skills she hopes to have ready by March.
One of Lambert's goals is to a collegiate gymnastics scholarship, and her preference is the University of Georgia or the University of Alabama. She would like to major in culinary arts. On the way there, she would love a chance to be on the U.S. National Team. She will celebrate her 16th birthday on the day of the Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup, and is hoping for a great birthday performance.
By Kate Guerra
Annette Miele is a gymnast of many interests. Take her academics, for example. When asked what her favorite subject is, she will excitedly tell you how cool she thinks it is that she gets to dissect cats in anatomy class. The 17 year-old from Parkettes in Allentown, Pa., also works at a local Dairy Queen (where she doesn't get free ice cream).
Miele started gymnastics at two years old when her parents got tired of messes she would make when tumbling about the house. She came to Parkettes when her former coach, the well-known gymnast Natalia Yurchenko, moved to the gym. She qualified for the Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup at the Parkettes Invitational.
A Level 10 gymnast since 2006, Miele has qualified for the Visa Championships every year since 2008, which she notes as her greatest accomplishment. In 2008, she placed 10th in the all-around at the Visa Championships, qualifying for the national team. She will attend the University of Michigan in June with a full gymnastics scholarship.
Her favorite event is vault, where she throws a Yurchenko one-and-a-half. She loves the brevity of the event and how the speed gets her excited. She has dealt with a lot throughout her gymnastics career, including coming back from a back injury, and sees her greatest strength as her easy-going personality.
"I think I'm just a very open-minded person," Miele said. "I'm up for trying new things and I don't let anything stop me in my life. I just work as hard as I can."
By Kate Guerra
Some people just have the focus and pizzazz that allows them to accomplish anything they set their mind to. First-generation American gymnast Brittney Sooksengdao is certainly one of those people.
Sooksengdao's parents, who immigrated to the United States from Laos, knew she was fit for gymnastics when she kept doing flips off the bed at just two years old. When she was five, they enrolled her at McCracken's Gymnastics in Olathe, Kan. She's been with coach Mary McDaniels for four years, since she was a Level 7. Now a Level 10, Sooksengdao savors the growing intensity of the competition and the things that she can learn from competing at the highest level.
She qualified for the Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup at the Folger's New Year's Invitational held at Wichita State University and considers it one of her biggest gymnastics accomplishments. Her favorite event, by far, is floor exercise.
"I love performing and I love the dance," Sooksengdao said. "The power, the grace of the dancing…I just really love the adrenaline rush on floor."
She sees her greatest strength as her dedication to the rigorous demands of gymnastics and is always working to overcome the obstacles placed before her by staying consistent in her work.
At 17 and already thinking about college, Sooksengdao shares the passion of many gymnasts her age to earn a gymnastics scholarship, but that isn't the only reason she looks forward to higher education. She also has an intense passion for design and architecture, which she expects will be her major one day. She is a straight-A honor roll student.
By Kate Guerra
Grace Williams is the definition of cool, calm and collected. As well as training her body, she has trained her mind to stay strong in tough situations—not always the easiest thing to do when she isn't performing to her expectations or is tempted to become distracted by the many things that run through a gymnast's head during competition. The 14-year-old high school freshman has taught herself to let these things go and take challenges one step at a time, an accomplishment she recognizes as her greatest strength.
Williams began gymnastics when she was three years old. At age 12, she transferred over to Geddert's Twistars USA in Lansing, Mich., under the direction of coach John Geddert. Since then, she has achieved a number of significant victories. In 2008, Williams was the Level 9 Eastern Champion. She began competing in Level 10 in 2009, and was regional champion in 2010, as well as a Junior Olympic national champion the same year.
Her favorite event is balance beam, where she performs a unique back handspring back layout back layout series. Making it to the Pan American Games is her short-term goal, and in the future, she would like to make the national team and compete in collegiate athletics for a Division I school.
Williams' mother, Amy, was a track and field college athlete. Though she never competed in gymnastics, it was always her favorite sport to watch so she enrolled Grace in a class.
"She definitely has a gift that is from God," Amy Williams said. "You can be good at something by working hard, but I think she definitely has a gift for it, and on top of that, is a hard worker."
USA Gymnastics is the National Governing Body (NGB) for the sport of gymnastics in the United States, consistent with the Ted Stevens Olympic & Amateur Sports Act, the Bylaws of the United States Olympic Committee and the International Gymnastics Federation. The mission of USA Gymnastics is to encourage participation and the pursuit of excellence in all aspects of gymnastics.