Our next 20 Questions athlete is 2021 Graduating Senior Madison Steskal from Midwest Elite (MEGA). Madison, who attends Elgin High School, has been a Level 10 for 3 years. However the last 2 have not been ideal for this young athlete. Madison was unable to finish both the 2019 and 2020 season due to injury and Covid-19 respectively fingers crossed 2021 brings about a better ending for her Senior year. In 2018 Madison swept the vault titles winning State, Regionals and Nationals at Level 9 recording her personal best 9.70 on the event. What I love most about this athlete is that she looks completely comfortable on the competition floor, always having a smile on her face and truly enjoying what she is doing. This athlete will definitely be on my “ones to watch” list for Illinois heading into the Championship Season. I truly hope we do not encounter anymore road bumps and can continue on our path to the 2021 Nationals Championships. Regardless of how the 2021 season turns out Madison will be headed to George Washington University in the Fall to continue her academics and athletes as part of the GW Gymnastics Team. So, lets get to know Madison a little better as she twists, flips and turns her way through the rest of the season and onto Washington.
How did you get into Gymnastics? How old were you? I did classes as a toddler for a little bit. My mom decided to put me back in gymnastics because I was always climbing everything. I was 6 when I really started getting into the sport.
What is your favorite event? Why? I’d say my favorite event is probably floor. One of my favorite things is tumbling because I love the feeling of bouncing off the floor and flying through the air.
Favorite Skill? Dream Skill? When I’m having a good vault day and feel powerful, my favorite skills to work on are yurchenko fulls and 1 1/2s. One of my dream skills is a double layout dismount of bars. I LOVE how it looks, and would love to compete it at GW!
Favorite part of Gymnastics? Why? One of the best feelings is when I’m at a meet and hear all my teammates cheering for me around the floor. Moments like these give me an adrenaline rush and make me so excited to compete
Biggest Accomplishment in Gymnastics so far? My biggest accomplishment in my gymnastics career has been committing to GW. Since I was 10 and saw my first college meet on TV, I knew I wanted to do college gymnastics. The recruiting process was full of a lot of highs and lows, but it was worth it, and I’m so grateful to have ended up signing with such an amazing school and program :
Most embarrassing meet or training meet? I’ve definitely had multiple embarrassing moments while competing, but the most memorable was a Level 10 Chicago Style meet, and I think I fell 3 times on bars?? I didn’t do too well on the other events either. Once the meet was over, I found out that a couple college coaches were watching… haha oops. It was pretty embarrassing, but on the bright side a coach actually reached out to me the next week, and said that he was interested in me after seeing how I handled messing up!
What is something you have learned from Gymnastics that you will take with you once you leave the sport? Gymnastics has taught me many things, with one of the most valuable being how to take constructive criticism. I used to get upset whenever a coach gave me a correction, because in my head it seemed like an insult, but I came to learn how critical constructive criticism is when it comes to progressing. Criticism is a way for me to better myself and improve, and because I learned this so young, I use it to help me in other aspects of my life.
Who is your biggest role model? Why? For the past few years my biggest role model has been Aly Raisman. Not only is she an amazing, powerful gymnast, but she is also an amazing, powerful human being. Seeing the way she stood up for herself and the gymnastics community during the Larry Nassar scandal really inspired me to take inventory of my environment and stand up for others when I feel something is wrong.
What are you most looking forward to in your senior year in gymnastics & high school? The events of 2020 have definitely altered my expectations for senior year as well as what excites me about this year. In October I had surgery to repair a labral tear in my shoulder, so I am still recovering and will not be competing much this year, but I’m still really excited to ramp back up and encourage my teammates! Our meets this year are a bit funky because of covid, but I hope I can still be involved in competitions and cheer my teammates on.
Why did you choose that school? GW stood out to me because of its challenging academics along with the team atmosphere I got to experience when I visited the school. I know that when I join the team, I will be entering a very supportive and positive environment. Another reason GW was at the top of my list was its location in Washington, DC. Not only am I excited to live in the city, but I know that being in DC will present me with so many opportunities and connections for my future
What are you most looking forward to about college & college gymnastics? I am really looking forward to competing with my college team at GW. When I watch college meets I can just feel how supportive and hyped up everyone is, and I love that everything is for the team, rather than the individual. Aside from gymnastics, college seems like such a great place to grow as a person and have fun as I begin to experience being an adult (I’m also happy that I won’t be completely on my own yet).
What is something that sets your gym and/or your team part? My team really values communication, which I believe is crucial in establishing a healthy, supportive environment. Our coaches push us to do our best and are hard on us when necessary, but they are always open to feedback and suggestions from the gymnasts. They want to make sure that we feel heard and valued, which I really appreciate
What is your role on your Level 10 Team or your role in your gym in general? My goal as a Level 10 gymnast is to be a good role model for the younger kids, and in general my goal is to motivate those around me. I definitely have my hard days in the gym, like everyone does, but knowing that by cheering for someone or giving a compliment to a teammate can help encourage them keeps me going.
What is your most memorable Gymnastics moment? My most memorable Gymnastics moment was probably the JPAC meet during my first year in Level 10. It was one of my best meets; I felt good mentally and physically, and the atmosphere was so energetic that it felt like how I’d imagine a college meet feeling
What are your goals for this season? Because of my surgery, my goals for this season are to ramp back up and make sure I take good care of my body so that I don’t get injured again! If I get enough skills back in time to compete then that will be great, but overall I want to work hard to get everything back (and hopefully get some upgrades) before I get to GW.
How would you explain the year 2020 to your future children/grandchildren?Oh gosh, I wouldn’t even know how to fully explain this year. I guess I’d tell them that it was pretty tough for everyone, but that for me personally I was fortunate to not lose anyone in my life from covid. I’d also tell them that although it was a tough year, it was a big turning point for me and my mental health. 2020 has given me the chance to really look inwards and realize what I want in life, and how I can challenge any thoughts in my head that prevent me from getting where I want to be.
What is the most valuable piece of advice or wisdom your coaches have given you? I can’t really pinpoint any one specific piece of advice, but over time my coaches have helped me realize that sometimes I just need to trust the process. I tend to get a little impatient sometimes and want to see results right away, but that’s just not how the world works, and my coaches have helped my trust that by working hard and giving things my all, I will eventually get where I want to go
Do you have a nickname? If so what is it? What is the story behind it? I usually go by Maddie. I think I decided to go by Maddie instead of Madison sometime in elementary school, because it was shorter to say, seemed less serious, and just felt like a more fitting name for my personality.
What really makes you laugh? Being goofy around my family and closest friends always makes me laugh like crazy. Sometimes I get in a really slap happy mood too, which just makes me laugh at literally anything
If you could have any super power what would it be? Why? If I could have a superpower, I think it would be really useful to be able to clean any room in an instant. I can get reallyyyy lazy, and it would just be so nice to snap my fingers and have any room cleaned and organized in seconds.
If you could add anything to your life right now, what would it be? A DOG!!! I want a puppy so so bad. I’ve begged my parents so much that anytime I talk about it they get annoyed with me HAHA. Just imagine having a little doggy who you could play and cuddle with, and who could give emotional support. I’m definitely getting myself a pupster once I finish college.
Bonus Question: Tell us something interesting about yourself……….. I like doing pretty much anything that’s creative/artistic: painting, designing, taking pictures, making posters, editing photos/videos, etc. I really enjoy creating and designing things, which is why I applied to the Corcoran School of Art and Design at GW! I’m so excited to experiment with different forms of art when I get there 🙂