World bronze medalist and four-time U.S. Women’s National Team member Kayla DiCello is about to tackle one of her most challenging assignments yet – college.
The 18-year-old Maryland native will soon head down south to the University of Florida after committing to the school late last year.
"I’m excited for the whole experience of taking college classes, being in the gym and meeting new people," DiCello said.
While still unsure of the academic venture she wants to pursue, her experiences as an athlete and appreciation for STEM have her considering sports medicine.
Living in an unfamiliar place and gaining new experiences is a fun prospect for DiCello. She definitely looks forward to competing within one of the nation’s most esteemed gymnastics programs.
The young star will join some of the sport’s biggest names in Gainesville, including 2022 NCAA all-around, uneven bars and floor exercise champion Trinity Thomas and 2017 World all-around champion Morgan Hurd. DiCello will also have multiple current Team USA members at her side. Riley McCusker and DiCello’s 2021 World Championships teammate Leanne Wong are entering their sophomore seasons.
"I think it’ll be a really fun time, just being with so many athletes that I’ve known and some that I’ll get to know and create amazing bonds with."
Like many of her future teammates, DiCello enters the collegiate world with an impressive elite resume.
She has remained on the Senior National Team since 2020 and was previously a member of the Junior National Team.
In her first senior competition, DiCello finished second in the all-around at the 2020 American Cup in Milwaukee, Wis., before the remainder of the season was cancelled due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. When competition resumed in 2021, so did DiCello’s success.
At the 2021 GK U.S. Classic in Indianapolis, Ind., last May, DiCello was crowned the uneven bars champion and attained bronze in the all-around and floor exercise. Two weeks later, at the 2021 U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, she earned the silver medal on floor exercise.
Once summer came around, DiCello was selected as an alternate for Team USA at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Although she ultimately did not compete, her time spent training with the team and soaking up the Olympic atmosphere increased her motivation going into future events.
© Filippo Tomasi
DiCello returned to Japan in October for the 2021 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in where she clinched all-around bronze and advanced to the balance beam and floor finals.
"That made me feel a lot more confident in my gymnastics and helped show that the hard work I was putting in was paying off," she explained.
Although DiCello hasn’t competed domestically this year, she made her debut on the international stage at the 2022 Pan American Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where she captured the floor title and helped her teammates secure silver in the team competition.
DiCello was one of 17 elite athletes chosen to represent the U.S. at the event featuring nearly 200 junior and senior artistic gymnasts from North, Central and South America.
Now, DiCello is setting her sights on the 2022 OOFOS U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Tampa, Fla., where she will compete against the best elite gymnasts in the country. With Gainesville being a two-hour drive from the national championships, Gator fans will have an opportunity to see DiCello in action before she joins Florida’s roster in the fall.
"[I’m] just trying to show people my gymnastics – how clean and confident I can look while I’m [performing]," she said. "To show in a high-competition meet that I can handle myself and be able to compete the best I can."
With less than two years until the Paris Olympic Games come around, DiCello is keeping her options open and focusing on one thing at a time – first the OOFOS U.S. Gymnastics Championships, then college.
"I am planning on competing in Tampa and then going to school right after… It’ll be a quick change, but I know I have a lot of support, " she said.
DiCello isn’t letting the thrill of moving to campus and performing in front of her first U.S. audience of the year break her concentration, she wants to finish this season strong.
© Filippo Tomasi
Looking ahead to next week’s national championships and her future endeavors, DiCello has a simple strategy.
"Focus on my gymnastics, taking it each practice at a time, each event at a time."
DiCello isn’t the only future Gator set to compete next weekend in Tampa. Skye Blakely and Shilese Jones will also be in action. Former National Team members who currently compete for Florida, including Blakely’s sister, Sloane, Thomas and Hurd, will sign autographs Sunday, August 21 onsite at Amalie Arena from 6-6:45 p.m. ET, and select Gators will make a meet-and-greet appearance Sunday from 4:30-6:15 p.m. in the FlipZone Fan Festival area located just outside the venue in Thunder Alley.
Fans can purchase tickets for the OOFOS U.S. Gymnastics Championships from Ticketmaster or by visiting usgymchampionships.com. Entry to the FlipZone is free.
Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA will broadcast Day 1 live Friday, August 19 at 7 p.m. ET with CNBC set to broadcast the competition on tape delay Saturday, August 20 at 3 p.m. ET. Competition will wrap Sunday, August 21 live on NBC at 7 p.m. ET. U.S. fans can stream both days of senior women’s competition live on Peacock. An international stream will be available for all junior and senior men’s and women’s sessions live on FlipNow Powered by USA Gymnastics.