It’s Tuesday! That means it’s 20 Questions Tuesday!!!! However, due to a balance beam through my windshield this morning we are a little late in posting, so my apologies to this weeks 20 Questions athlete.
Speaking of this weeks 20 Questions athlete, she is a 2018 & 2019 Level 9 Eastern National Qualifier & 2020 first year level 10. Sophie Chandler of Gym America in Saline, Michigan is a ray of sunshine in the gym and on the competition floor! I absolutely love watching this athlete especially on beam and floor! Her dance ability is beautiful, her floor routine is one of my favorites. Gym America is known for having amazingly dramatic, creative and expressive floor routines. Claudia definitely does a FANTASTIC job as choreographing each floor routine to showcase her athletes personalities, hands down one of the best choreographers in the state. This definitely shows in Sophie’s floor and beam routines, her attention to detail is so refreshing. It is a bummer that the 2019-2020 season ended like it did because I could definitely see big things for this young athlete in the Championship Season, she will be on my list for 2020-2021 as “one to watch” from Michigan. Hopefully Michigan athletes can get back in the gym soon, so they can catch up with the rest of Region 5. It has been difficult here in Michigan sitting on the sidelines as our Regionmates are training and improving. With that being said, let’s get to know Sophie a little better as she looks to the 2020-2021 season hopeful that Michigan athletes will be able to make a run at the Region 5 Dream Team.
How did you get into gymnastics? How old were you? I got a pretty late start to gymnastics and didn’t join until I was about 9 years old. I always thought the sport seemed like so much fun, and I was so drawn to the sparkly leotards and crazy routines. I also loved the American Girl “Mckenna” movie where the main character did gymnastics. One day I decided to ask my mom to join and the rest is history! My twin sister and I decided to try it out together, but she quit on her first day after she fell off the low beam on a forward roll. I knew I was in for a lot more falling, so I embraced it!
What is your favorite event? Why? My favorite event to train during practice is bars. I love the feeling of flying between the bars and floating in the air. However, my favorite event to compete is floor. I’ve always loved when we get to the floor rotation at meets because I love showing my artistry in my routine. I also love twisting and think it’s the coolest feeling ever.
Favorite Skill to train/compete? Why? My favorite skill to train/compete has got to be either my jaeger on bars or my front double full on floor. They are just so much fun to do.
Dream Skill? I would love to work to connect something either into or out of my front double full. I’ve also always thought that front aerials on beam look so beautiful, so I would love to get that skill.
What is your favorite part of gymnastics? My favorite part of gymnastics is probably the relationships that I’ve established with all of my coaches and teammates. Everyone is so supportive and always there for each other. I also love being able to put all of my energy towards achieving something and seeing it pay off. I wouldn’t trade the long nights or hard practices for anything, because the feeling that I get doing the sport makes it all worth it!
What is your favorite meet to compete at? Why? My favorite meet to compete at is my gym’s home meet: Wolverine Classic. We host it every year and it is always so much fun! We get to end on floor, and by the end of the meet everyone in the venue just has so much excitement and is cheering everyone on. There is just so much positive energy from everyone. All of my school friends also get to come because it’s close to home, which is really great because they usually don’t get the chance to see me compete.
Biggest accomplishment in gymnastics so far? My biggest accomplishment in gymnastics would definitely have to be making it to level 10. That has been my ultimate goal since I was younger, and now that I am finally here it sometimes doesn’t seem real.
What is your favorite Region 5 Insider Feature or Series? I really love watching the bloopers videos because it’s nice to realize that everyone makes mistakes and gets the chance to laugh about it in the end.
What kinds of things really make you laugh? My friends and teammates never fail to make me laugh… Whether it’s when we’re making tik toks or dancing together at practice, we always have so much fun!
3 Things you could not live without? I couldn’t live without my heated blanket, friends/family, or music.
If you could be any animal, what animal would you be and why?If I could be any animal, I think I would be a monkey. They get to swing around on branches which is kind of like doing gymnastics. They also always have so much energy, which I wish I had more of sometimes.
Talk about your 2019 Level 9 Eastern Nationals experience & being part of Region 5? I absolutely love being a part of Region 5! All of the Region 5 gymnasts and coaches are so excited and happy to be representing our region, and that just makes the experience 10 times better. I’ve also met so many amazing people through Region 5 camps and meets like Regionals and Eastern Nationals. I still keep in contact with the majority of them and it is so cool to have friends outside of your own gym that you can cheer on at meets and say hi to!
How did your 1st season of Level 10 go? My first season of level 10 went pretty well! It took some getting used to at first, especially because I got so many new skills over the summer that I needed to get consistent on, but I am very proud of my growth throughout the duration of the season. I tried my best to take every meet one event at a time and just live in the moment. I am really glad to have one season of 10 under my belt as I move into next year!
Thoughts on the 2019-2020 Season ending like it did? As most other gymnasts around the world, I do wish I could have had the last couple of meets to show everyone how hard I’d worked all season, but this break has really taught me not to take anything for granted… Especially the sport that I love. This just gives me the chance to improve myself physically/mentally and come back even stronger next season.
What are you doing to keep up your training during Corona Quarantine? I’ve done so many zoom calls! They’ve ranged from pilates, virtual trampoline sessions, bars/beam drills, and mental toughness chats. These zoom calls keep me connected with everyone at my gym and it is always so nice to see all of their faces.
What do you miss most about gymnastics during this time? I miss just being able to walk into the gym prepared to work hard with a smile on my face. I also miss laughing with and hugging my teammates. I still keep in contact with them and we talk every day, but it is so different not seeing them in person 5 days a week.
What is the first thing you want to do once you can get back to gym & training? I can’t wait to put my grips back on and swing between the bars. I might even have to give the beam a hug, because I’ve missed that event, believe it or not! I am also going to have to remind myself to be patient, because it will take some time to get all of my skills back to where they used to be.
Most embarrassing meet moment or gymnastics moment? At last year’s Wolverine Classic I completely forgot my floor routine and ended up going the wrong way. I had absolutely no idea what happened!
Do you have a nickname? If so, what Is the story behind it? My nickname, Sophie Sunshine, started off as a family thing but soon integrated into the gym. Now a lot of my teammates call me it. It’s because I always try to stay happy and smiley… bringing sunshine into peoples’ lives! My coach Claudia also calls me Sophina. I’m not really sure where it came from, but I think it’s super funny!
Which athletes (any sport) do you respect the most and why? I have so much respect for all athletes because we all work extremely hard in our own ways.
Something you learned from Gymnastics that you will take with you? Gymnastics has taught me so many valuable life lessons, but one that I will carry with me forever is to never give up. It can take time, but with dedication and persistence anything is possible!
Most Memorable Gymnastics or Eastern Nationals Moment? At my first Eastern Nationals in Rochester, New York, I ended on vault and had a great turn. Afterwards, my coach Brian took my hand and walked me back down the vault runway opening his arms and saying, “look, you did it!” I remember feeling so proud of myself and my team. It is a moment I will never forget.
What is the most valuable piece of advice or wisdom your coach has given you? My coaches have always told me to trust the process and yourself.
Bonus Question: Tell me something interesting about yourself…. I have an identical twin sister named Sky and we are pretty much opposites.