Watch intro videos shown in the venue at the 2011 Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup
By Kate Guerra
Though they love gymnastics, most young gymnasts see school as a nice break from the long hours of training. Miya Dotson, however, feels the opposite.
"Gymnastics is my sanctuary," Dotson said. "School stresses me out!"
Dotson is a 16 year-old self-proclaimed "girly girl" who trains at Oakland Gymnastics in Walled Lake, Mich. She has been there for almost two years and has been with coach Ruth Miller for most of that time. She started gymnastics when she was nine and moved to Northville, Mich., from Georgia. She converted to gymnastics from dance lessons when she insisted on how much she hated them.
Dotson qualified for the Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup at the Presidential Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., where she was third in the all-around and fourth on the uneven bars.
A junior at Northville High School, Dotson has verbally committed to Western Michigan University. She feels her greatest strength is her confident attitude, but admits it is challenging to retain that confidence all the time. She wants to get her undergraduate degree in business and eventually go to law school.
By Evan Reller
'Megz' Jimenez, a 15-year-old from Temecula, Calif., walked into a gymnastics class when she was three-and-a-half years old and immediately fell in love. Her favorite event is vault and she loves the new challenges that every day of practice brings. She is a part of Precision Gymnastics where she trains at least 4 hours a day.
When she isn't training, the Temecula Valley High School sophomore likes to draw, write poetry and play piano. Jimenez believes that school comes first, however, and with her intense schedule, she often has to catch up with homework on the weekends.
"Dedication, focus and determination are so important," Jimenez said. "You need to set a goal and achieve it."
Her parents have always been very supportive of her sport. Lauren Jimenez, Megz' father, was a professional-level cyclist in Costa Rica.
Jimenez has been competing at Level 10 for the past four years. In 2010 she made the Junior Olympic National Team, was a Florida National Elite qualifier and competed at the Visa National Championship. She is also an eight-time State and Regional Champ.
Megz' personal motto is: You were not born a winner, you were not born a loser. You were born what you make yourself to be!
By Kate Guerra
One would think that competing at more difficult levels would add pressure to a gymnast's life. Kathryn Kluz, however, feels that competing in Level 10 actually lessens the pressure on her, because she is not worried about moving up to another level and can focus solely on polishing her skills. The 16 year-old trains at Oakland Gymnastics in Walled Lake, Mich., with coach Ruth Miller.
Miller remembers Kluz coming to classes when she was just a year-and-a- half years old. Since she began competing, Miller is proud of the hard work Kluz has done to improve her flexibility and gracefulness. She sees Kluz as a power gymnast and a wonderful team player, a quality that will serve her well at Auburn University, where she has verbally committed.
Kluz, who lives in Wixom, Mich., placed seventh in the all-around at her first Junior Olympic National Championships in 2008. In 2010, she wwon the all-around, vault and uneven bars at the Michigan state meet, where she also was second on floor, and went on to finish second on vault and seventh in the all-around at the Junior Olympic Nationals. In 2011, she qualified for the Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup by finishing second in the all-around at the Circle of Stars Invitational, where she also won vault and floor exercise. At the 2011 Presidential Classic, she tied for first in the all-around and uneven bars and won the vault title.
In her spare time, she enjoys attending her high school's football games and watching hockey because she grew up watching her brothers play. Kluz is currently a junior at Walled Lake Northern High School. She is proud of her 3.95 G.P.A. and has already received her academic letter.
Competing in college is Kluz's ultimate goal in gymnastics, though she is also considering the possibility of coaching one day. She has no idea why her parents put her in gymnastics, but she is certainly appreciative of the fact they did.
By Evan Reller
"I enjoy the thrill of competing and the friends I meet," Jennie Laeng said of her involvement with gymnastics.
The 15-year-old from West Middlesex, Pa., is a part of the Olympic Dreams Gymnastics Club. Laeng's mother, Joni, was a gymnast and competed during college at UNC-Greensboro. The rest of her family is athletic also: her father, Jack, played football; sister, Jacalyn, plays volleyball; and brother, Scotty, is a hockey player.
Laeng is a majorette for Kennedy Catholic High School, where she is a sophomore and has a 4.0 grade point average. Laeng is also a member of the Environmental Science Club and the Students Against Alcohol and Drugs group. She also trains about 4 hours a day, six days a week. Hard work and perseverance are a big part of her success.
"One of my biggest challenges has just been growing-up," Laeng said. "In the past year or so, I've grown a lot, and dealing with the extra length to my body has been challenging."
Laeng participated in both the 2009 and 2010 National Invitational Tournaments. She placed first in the all-around at the 2010 Hawaiian Pineapple Classic, where she also was first on the uneven bars and balance beam and second on vault and floor exercise.. At the 2011 Rock n' Roll Classic, Laeng placed second in the all-around to advance to the Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup.
Laeng's long-term goal is to earn a college scholarship and continue to compete in gymnastics.
By Kate Guerra
Lauren Marinez moved to Orlando (Fla.) Metro Gymnastics from New York City, and though it is quite a change of pace, she is glad she did. She has had the opportunity to train alongside many accomplished gymnasts who were at the gym and has flourished under the guidance of coaches Jeff Wood and Christi Mitchell.
Marinez began gymnastics because she told her mom she wanted to get some energy out. She began competing when she was five and grew very attached to the sport. According to her mother, she is very territorial of her leotard and takes her training very seriously.
In 2008, Marinez competed in the IGI Chicago Style Gymnastics Meet and won balance beam, floor exercise and the all-around. She began competing as a Level 10 in 2009 and qualified for the Junior Olympic National Championships that year. This year, she qualified for the Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup at the Lady Luck Las Vegas Invitational by tying for first in the all-around and taking second on beam. She does a unique skill on beam, where she spins on the board and lands in a split.
Marinez hopes to compete in college gymnastics one day, and also aspires to be on the national team. However, she does not let those goals overwhelm her, instead she takes every accomplishment one step at a time. She is looking forward to seeing some familiar faces at the Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup.
By Kate Guerra
If you asked Sachi Rose Sugiyama what her favorite subject is, you would spend a long time listening to her answer. Usually when you meet someone interested in math and science, they cringe at the idea of the arts. Not Sugiyama, a 17 year-old high school senior who is also active in choir and loves to draw and paint.
Sugiyama, who lives in Keller, Texas, started gymnastics when she was just two years old through her parents' desperate attempt to find an outlet for her energy. She trains at Top Flight Training Center in Southlake, Texas, with coach Leann Sweny.
Sweny has always been very impressed with Sugiyama's ability to handle multiple responsibilities at once. She is an excellent student and has never enrolled in an early release program at school. She always went to school full-time, and excelled in every area. She is a senior at Keller High School.
"That commitment, work ethic and ability to time manage is definitely a huge plus to her personality," Sweny said. "It will serve her well in college and in later life."
Sugiyama has carried those characteristics over to her gymnastics as well. In 2008, she was the Level Nine Western all-around champion. In 2010, she finished sixth in the all-around competition at the Junior Olympic National Championships. She qualified for the Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup at the Metroplex Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, where she won vault, finished second in the all-around and tied for second on bars.
Her favorite event is vault, where she performs a Yurchenko one-and-a-half. She has received a full scholarship to the University of Michigan and wants to win nationals this year. Sugiyama sees her greatest strength as her ability to not let anything get her down, but sometimes struggles with her confidence.
When not training, Sugiyama enjoys spending time on her passion for singing. She has been active in choir for as long as she remembers. She is very excited about the upcoming trip her choir will take to Italy, where they will sing at St. Peter's Basilica and see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. She also likes to draw, paint and read.
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.