By Luan Peszek
Savannah Vinsant, 19, is the first USA trampoline athlete to make event finals at the Olympic Games, and she finished sixth place at the Games in London. She is also the 2011 and 2012 national champion on trampoline. Vinsant is from Lafayette, La., where she trains with her coaches Dmitri Poliaroush and Tara Guidry at Trampoline and Tumbling Express.
We caught up with Savannah while she was on the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions and had a chance to ask her some questions.
USA Gymnastics: I see your nickname is Bannie, how did you get that name?
Savannah: I got the nickname Bannie because when I was a little girl I talked a lot and babbled on and on, like a Bannie rooster. So my dad started calling me bannie.
USA Gymnastics: How old were you when you started gymnastics and how did you get involved with trampoline?
Savannah: I was 6 years old and I joined a competitive gym that was involved with power tumbling and trampoline. Since day one, I was hooked on trampoline!
USA Gymnastics: What is the best part of trampoline?
Savannah: The best part of trampoline is hearing the wind in my ears as I jump.
USA Gymnastics: What is it like performing on trampoline during the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions?
Savannah: Performing on trampoline during the tour is awesome. It is much more relaxed than a competition. The idea for our trampoline number is a battle between Steven (Gluckstein) and I. It’s really fun acting as “Tron” characters and keeping a serious face the whole time!
USA Gymnastics: What has been a crazy/fun/scary/embarrassing moment you can recall from the Tour?
Savannah: A fun moment on the tour has been all of the bus rides. I love getting to hang with the girls and have dance parties!
USA Gymnastics: Going back to London, what was going through your mind at the Olympic Games when you found out you made finals?
Savannah: When I found out I made finals at the Olympics, I was overwhelmed. I was in complete shock, yet super pumped to compete in finals.
USA Gymnastics: Were you pleased with finishing sixth at the Olympic Games?
Savannah: Yes, absolutely I was more than pleased finishing sixth in my first Olympic Games (and Savannah was the youngest trampoline competitor in the Games!)
USA Gymnastics: Tell us about the Olympic promise you made to your Grandpa “Paw Paw” and how that happened.
Savannah: The Olympic promise I made to my Paw Paw (grandpa) was made when I was about 5 or 6. He made a comment to me and my cousin Klint about our parents not getting him to the Olympic Games in their respective sports, so I told him don’t worry Paw Paw I will take you to the “Impics” and what do you know, I made the 2012 Olympic Team and my Paw Paw was there in the stands watching me compete.
USA Gymnastics: What was the best part of the Olympic Games? Worst part?
Savannah: Best part of the Olympics was the opening ceremony and the competition. The worst part was leaving London.
USA Gymnastics: What are your future goals for trampoline? Will you continue to compete in the sport?
Savannah: Yes, I plan to continue with the sport. My future goals in trampoline are to win World Championships and medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
USA Gymnastics: Tell us about school? I know you have sat out a while so that you could pursue your dream of making the Olympic Team, will you go back to school after the Tour?
Savannah: Yes I did sit out a year of college to focus on training. After the tour, I do plan to go back to attend University of Louisiana at Lafayette and pursue a degree in Business with a minor in Psychology.
USA Gymnastics: Someone told me you were the valedictorian of your high school, is that correct?
Savannah: Yes, I graduated a year early in 2010 at age 16 and I was valedictorian of my class.
USA Gymnastics: What is your career plan for the future?
Savannah: I’m still uncertain of my career plan, maybe I should start thinking about that.
USA Gymnastics: Have you gotten to see your family much? Were they in London? Have they seen a tour stop yet?
Savannah: Since January my schedule has been pretty crazy. I have found time to spend with my family, but not much. Yes I had a “Savannah Crew” in London. There were 10 people including my parents, grandparents and closest friends. They plan to see the Dallas show and the Lafayette show.
USA Gymnastics: What is your advice to others who want to pursue trampoline as a sport?
Savannah: Some advice I would give to someone pursuing trampoline, would be to follow your heart! Never give up, you never know when your wildest dreams will come true.