Our first 20 Questions athlete of the new year is 2017 JO National Qualifier Kaitlyn Ewald of In The Zone Gymnastics of Evansville, Indiana. Kaitlyn, who has qualified to both the Level 9 and Level 10 National Champions, is an exceptional talent with some unique skills. I first noticed Kaitlyn at the 2018 Region 5 Championships, she had a fantastic leotard on, I was told she was a talented athlete and one to watch for JO Nationals. Since then I have kept an eye out for Kaitlyn, she came to the 2018 Region 5 High Tech Camp with a brand new vault that is exceptionally powerful definitely one to watch again this year. Kaitlyn, who is a Junior in High School, is looking to make an impact this season and earn herself another trip to the JO Nationals. Lets get to know Kaitlyn a little bit better as she heads into the new year with upgraded skills and a hunger to accomplish the goals she has set for herself.
How did you get into gymnastics? How old were you? My Mom enrolled me in a recreational class at the local YMCA when I was 5 years old and I was hooked. I have been in competitive gymnastics ever since.
What is your favorite event? Bars has always been my favorite event, with Floor Exercise a close second.
Favorite Skill to train/compete? My favorite skill to train is a front handspring double front on floor and my favorite skill to compete is my new handspring front half out vault. However, my all-time favorite skill is a press to handstand.
Dream Skill? My dream skill is a Tkachev to Pac Salto combination on Bars. I have the Pac, and I have trained the Tkachev some at college camps already.
What is your favorite part of gymnastics? My favorite part of gymnastics is training and competing alongside my teammates and best friends. I love the positive atmosphere of gymnastics, especially in Region 5, and the opportunity to make life long friendships in this sport.
What college do you plan on attending? Why? I hope to have the opportunity to compete gymnastics at the collegiate level. I have made some visits but have not decided on a University or an area of study at this point. I am a 4.0 GPA student and academics, as well as athletics, will factor into my final decision.
What is your favorite meet to compete at? Why? Competing at Eastern Nationals in Virginia Beach was an amazing experience as was being on the floor with my Level 10 Dream Team teammates at JO Nationals. Another great meet experience was the CGA Coaches Spectacular All-Star Showdown where I competed bars.
Biggest accomplishment in gymnastics so far? So far, my biggest accomplishments have been qualifying for JO Nationals in 2017 as the First Alternate, placing 5thAll-Around at the 2016 Level 9 Eastern Nationals, and winning 5 Indiana State Championships.
Who do you most admire in the sport of gymnastics? Why? I have always admired Shawn Johnson. She was a great competitor and ambassador for the sport of gymnastics.
What is your favorite Region 5 Insider Feature or Series? My favorite Region 5 Insider series is Making Moves Monday. I love seeing all the skill upgrades that are being performed by the gymnasts in Region 5.
What is your go to playlist or song before meets? I don’t really have a go to song. I like to listen to upbeat music as I am always excited before the meets.
If you could be any animal, what animal would you be and why? If I could be any animal, I would be a cat so I can always land on my feet.
5 Most Important or Must have Items in your gym bag? My must have items are grips, wrist bands, heel pads, snacks, and pony tail holders.
Do you have any pre-meet rituals or superstitions? When I go to bed the night before the meet, I always close my eyes and visualize my routines the way I hope to perform them the next day.
What do you like to do outside of Gymnastics? Outside of gymnastics, I enjoy school and learning new things. I also enjoy spending time with my family and friends. My sister and I are close and due to both being in gymnastics, we share the same friends and enjoy doing things together. I also have a dog (Bella) and two cats (Mr. Whiskers and Lena) at home.
Most embarrassing meet moment or gymnastics moment?My most embarrassing meet moment was forgetting my beam routine while I was competing and having to make one up on the spot.
If you weren’t a gymnast, what sport would you do or try? My alternate sport would likely be diving, assuming I could learn to land on my head instead of on my feet.
What are you most looking forward to this competition session? I am looking forward to competing at the Metroplex Challenge for the first time and a return trip to Chicago to compete in the Chicago Style Meet at Navy Pier. Ultimately, my goal is a return trip to JO Nationals.
What is the most valuable piece of advice or wisdom your coach has given you? The most valuable advice my coach has ever given me is to believe in myself and to always stay positive no matter what.
Bonus Question: Tell me something interesting about yourself… I have been told I am very true to myself. I don’t conform to what anyone else thinks I should be.