© Team Photo

By Nick McCarvel

If Charlotte Drury could have any superpower, it would be to fly. Not only in life, but on the trampoline, too.

“I could fly as high and far as I wanted,” the 19-year-old tells USA Gymnastics in a recent interview. “And not to mention I would pretty much be unstoppable at trampoline. I can’t imagine there is anything more freeing than flying.”

In 2016, the hope is for Drury – the first American woman to win a World Cup gold medal in trampoline history (Minsk, 2014) – to soar into the Rio Olympics. This weekend her season officially takes off at the Pacific Rim Championships presented by Hershey’s in Everett, Wash.

“My goal for Pacific Rims is to compete three clean and high routines and really use this competition as a warm up for Olympic test event next week,” explains Drury. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to medal [in Everett], but I try not to focus on results as much, and instead stay focused on doing my routines just like I do in training.”

If she was, indeed, in flight, Drury’s final destination would read “R-I-O” – a place she’s dreamed of landing since being a little girl, watching the Olympics on a glowing TV in front of young her eyes.

“Ever since I was six years old the Olympics has been my dream,” says Drury, who is based in Southern California. “Over the years that dream turned into a goal and eventually that goal became realistic. I can’t believe I have the opportunity to qualify; it’s still hard for me to wrap my head around.”

Charlotte didn’t have a hard time wrapping her head around the fact that McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross – both good friends since childhood – made the most of their respective Olympic experiences in London. They’d been in the gym together for years and years, and watching two former training partners and close confidantes perform their best at the highest level was more motivating to Drury than anything else.

“I think we viewed every major accomplishment as a stepping-stone to the bigger, final goal, and never dwelled on things too much,” Drury says of her friendships with Maroney and Ross. “It wasn’t until I got older that I realized how special that is. We pushed each other to become better athletes, but we were also in this together as best friends.”

She continues: “Watching them in London was a dream come true. A lot of people ask me if I was jealous or if I felt like I missed out and the honest answer is ‘no.’ I knew in my heart that London was Kyla and McKayla’s golden moment, [and] after years of grueling work they reached their summit. I also knew that I was on a new path and I was going to work as hard as I could to get my own golden moment.”

Drury made the switch from artistic gymnastics to trampoline in 2010. Six short years later, she has established herself on the international scene. Drury will make the trek to Rio – the first of her life – for the Olympic test event, set for April 19.

It’s there that Drury – the only American woman competing – will have to secure a U.S. berth in trampoline for the Rio Games.

Talk about pressure.

“This year is very different being the Olympic Year,” Dodd tells USA Gymnastics. “Charlotte knows the importance of the near future and is doing her best to stay calm and keep things business as usual; She has huge weight on her shoulders.”

Drury is known for her power and attacking style. She gets as high as anyone in the world off the trampoline, and Dodd says her daredevil nature only helps her soar – literally – to greater heights.

What is also sky-high is Charlotte’s determination. She’s an adventurous individual, often convincing “BFF” Kyla to tag along on various excursions. It’s a penchant she satisfies plenty outside of the gym, but it certainly doesn’t hurt her inside of it, either.

“I’m a huge daredevil,” a coy Drury says. “I love cliff jumping, rock climbing, skimboarding and free diving into coral reefs and kelp forests. Oh! And I totally swam with a fully-grown grey whale last week which is a story for another time but, oh man, it was so awesome.”

Actually, there is little understated about Charlotte. Can you tell? And that’s what has made her so great on the trampoline, too.

“I would not call Charlotte quiet,” Dodd says. “She enjoys challenges and tends to attack head on. She is vocal both for herself and also when encouraging all of her teammates.”

Olympics or not, Charlotte vows to keep working, though Rio is the ultimate goal for this season. Drury sees the long game: She’s been a game-changer for the U.S. in this discipline, and that’s even more motivating to her.

“I want to become to best athlete that I can,” Drury says. “I’m not going to retire until I’m sure that I’ve maxed out on my potential. That being said, knowing that I have to opportunity to help build the U.S. program and accomplish things no one has done before is so exciting and motivating. I’m a firm believer in leaving things better than how you found them; that’s the impact I’m trying to have. I love working with our juniors and younger seniors and helping the whole team grow. Getting the opportunity to break boundaries and set new records is a huge bonus, but at the end of the day I’m doing all this because I love it.”

It’s been a fast climb, and one that has seen her motivated by others along the way: Her first coach, Logan Dooley, the 2012 Olympic champion Rosie MacLennan, training partner Neil Gulati and Dodd, who Drury says “knows what to say to fire me up.”

No firing up will be needed in Everett or in Rio over the next couple of weeks, however. Charlotte has that covered.

“When I started at World Elite [Gymnastics, in California] in 2010, I remember walking in and watching in awe at the senior elites training,” she says. “I also remember thinking that I would quit before I ever had to do skills as scary as that! Eventually, though, I became a part of that group, and it’s really thanks to being in that environment that I improved so quickly.”

And if she can fly into the Olympics? Well, that would be something that would be as much for her as anyone else.

“I think what makes me unique as an athlete is at the end of the day I’m doing all of this for myself,” she admits. “I go into the gym everyday because I want to, not because I feel like I have to. I love to jump, and as hard as I’m working to make my dreams come true I’m still enjoying the journey.”

Ready Charlotte? Blastoff.