As states around the Region begin to open or make plans for opening up their states and facilities, we here in Michigan are still going strong in our “Stay at Home” order. So, if you see us venturing into your state please approach with caution, it’s been a while since we have seen people! lol :). Anyways, no matter if we are open or not Michiganders will persevere! With that being said we would like to continue to showcase not only our Region 5 Athletes, but our Region 5 Graduating Seniors! The class of 2020 is truly like no other graduating class before them, born into a world battling terrorism and now entering adult hood during a global pandemic.
Our next 20 Questions athlete has not only endured a global pandemic, but she has fought back form an ACL tear to compete her senior year as a Level 10. Her season did not turn out how she had expected or hoped, but Hannah Hautala of Champion USA in Holland, Michigan will continue her gymnastics career this fall at the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse. I had the pleasure of working with Hannah on her Senior year Floor routine, which is fantastic by the way, Hannah was very easy to work worth she really captured and embodied the story of the routine. Hannah, definitely is a great role model for her teammates and younger athletes in the gym, having torn her ACL and working back to a top level and earning a scholarship can be incredibly hard. I have had two of my own athletes experience this and I know first hand the struggles in the gym everyday. On the competition floor Hannah always looked like she loved what she was doing each and every time she was out competing with her teammates. As states, gyms and schools are making plans for their return to normal, let’s get to know Hannah a little better as she graduates 6ft apart from her classmates and continues her Zoom workouts with her teammates in preparation for the next chapter.
What is your favorite event? Why? Beam; this sounds weird, but I like the pace of beam routines. They aren’t too fast or too slow, and you get to be artistic without the use of music, which is something that I find cool and fascinating.
Favorite Skill to train/compete? Why? My favorite skill to train and compete is a rudi layout stepout because it feels like you’re flying in the layout!
What is your favorite part of gymnastics? My favorite part of gymnastics is the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that arises after you master a skill that you’ve been working on for a very long time or after coming back from an injury or setback.
What college do you plan on attending? Why? I plan on attending the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse because I love the campus and aura of the school as well as the opportunity to do gymnastics.
What is your favorite meet to compete at? Why? My favorite meet to compete at is my home meet, the Tulip City Invitational, because of all the energy and support we get to experience from our friends, teammates, and family.
Biggest accomplishment in gymnastics so far? My biggest accomplishment in gymnastics so far is qualifying to Eastern nationals. I’ve also come back from many injuries, one of which being an ACL tear, and I consider coming back from that as one of my biggest accomplishments!
What is your favorite Region 5 Insider Feature or Series? My favorite Region 5 Insider feature or series is the 20 questions because I think it’s cool to learn more about different gymnasts’ lives and personalities outside of what we see in the gym or at competitions.
3 Things you could not live without? Music, a blanket, and my brothers
Discuss not being able to finish your senior season like you had hoped. It was a little sad and upsetting at first, but I decided to stay optimistic and learn to accept and embrace the situation. I learned to recognize that something not ending well or as planned doesn’t mean that it never was good. In other words, just because my season didn’t end how I had hoped, doesn’t mean it was a bad season! I still made many memories and met many goals throughout the season!
What are you doing to keep up your training during Corona Quarantine? I have been doing conditioning and other fun activities with my team through video calls, visualizing my skills, setting goals, and going on many bike rides!
What do you miss most about gymnastics during this time? I miss being around my teammates every day as well as the small moments of accomplishment that come from making skills and completing assignments.
What is the first thing you want to do once you can get back to gym & training? Run on the spring floor. It’s so much softer than a track or the sidewalk; I miss it.
Most embarrassing meet moment or gymnastics moment? I quite honestly can’t think of one… I think I choose to forget them!
Do you have a nickname? If so, what is the story behind it? Not really. A lot of people call me Han, which is just short for Hannah, and my brothers call me Hungun for a reason that none of us really know.
Which athletes (any sport) do you respect the most and why? One athlete that I respect the most is Laurie Hernandez. I love how sweet and energetic she is as well as her boldness in being herself and speaking out for what she believes in!
Something you learned from Gymnastics that you will take with you? Something I learned from gymnastics that I will always take with me is how to turn adversity into growth. I’ve had many setbacks throughout my gymnastics career, and while they’re always frustrating and sad, I have learned to embrace each one, use that time to get better at something (in gymnastics or life in general), and learn more about myself as a person.
Most Memorable Gymnastics or Nationals Moment? My most memorable gymnastics moment was probably when I got to compete at Eastern Nationals. It was memorable because I was actually the first alternate, but I got a call two days before the meet that I would be competing! It was a huge surprise and an absolutely amazing experience!
What is the most valuable piece of advice or wisdom your coach has given you? One piece of advice or wisdom that has been given to me by a coach is the simple statement that “you’ve come too far and worked too hard to give up now”. This always gave me encouragement and helped me persevere through many of my hardest moments in the sport. Another piece of wisdom given by my coach that I hold close to my heart is the general fact that whatever you do in life, it must be something that makes you happy and proud.
How do you want to be remembered, but us here in Region 5 as well as your home club & teammates? I want to be remembered as someone that always worked hard and overcame challenges and obstacles with a positive attitude! I also want to be remembered as a good and supportive teammate that others could always come to and rely on.
What is something special your friends, family, school, coaches or teammates, have done for you during this quarantine to make missing out on those special senior moments a little easier to handle. On my birthday, my mom and friends set up a drive by birthday party! It was a huge surprise and I felt so loved! I’ve also really appreciated the small things people have done, such as my teachers video chatting with us just to talk and catch up as well as the virtual band concert my teacher is planning to honor the seniors with.
Bonus Question: Tell me something interesting about yourself…. Something interesting about me is that I’ve been in band and have played the flute for 6 years!