Our next 20 Questions Athlete is 2019 JO National Qualifier Lia Kmieciak of Phenom Gymnastics in Illinois. Lia comes from a long line of gymnasts with her old sister being Keeley Kmieciak, Oklahoma standout and the first athlete to sweep podium at JO Nationals. Lia, a 2nd year level 10, qualified in 2019 to her first JO National Championships where she placed 13th in the AA. Lia, who is entering her Junior year of high school will definitely be one to watch in the next few years as she heads into her third level 10 season and another run at a Dream Team spot at the JO National Championships. Let’s get to know Lia a little better as she looks to wrap up her summer training and gear up for another great season with Phenom and Region 5.
How did you get into gymnastics? How old were you? I was about 3 when I started doing gymnastics. All three of my sisters did gymnastics at Phenom and my coach asked my mom if I wanted to join the 3 year old class and I did!
What is your favorite event? My favorite event is Bars. There are so many skills to learn and I love the feeling like you are flying on bars.
Favorite Skill to train/compete? I would say I like to compete my Maloney on bars and I am working double layouts on floor this summer which I love training!
Dream Skill? One of my dream skills is a Maloney to an immediate bail or Maloney to an uprise on bars.
What is your favorite part of gymnastics? I love the lessons that gymnastics teaches you and the bonds you form while doing it!
What college do you plan on attending? I am still undecided but my hope is to get a full ride scholarship do a division 1 school!
What is your favorite meet to compete at? Why? I love competing at JO Nationals because I love competing with the girls and the energy that is created when we all come together.
Biggest accomplishment in gymnastics so far? I would say my biggest accomplishment so far is getting my highest all around score at my first JO Nationals!
What is your favorite Region 5 Insider Feature or Series?I like the all access series because I like to see how different gyms train.
What is your go to playlist or song before meets? I have a playlist called “fired up” with a bunch of motivational songs on it.
3 Things you could not live without? 3 things I cannot live without are my family, friends, God
If you could be any animal, what animal would you be and why? I would be a tiger because they are super pretty animals and are strong, powerful, and fearless but can stay calm in many hard situations.
5 Most Important or Must have Items in your gym bag? Grips, tiger paws, water bottle, pre wrap, tape.
Do you have any pre-meet rituals or superstitions? Before meets I usually take an epsom salt bath, listen to music, watch netflix, and do a lot of visualizations.
What do you like to do outside of Gymnastics? Outside of gymnastics I like to hang out with friends and family and spend summer weekends at my family lake house.
Most embarrassing meet moment or gymnastics moment? In level 7 I landed a tumbling pass out of bounds and didn’t know how to finish my dance so I finished the rest of my routine out of bounds.
If you weren’t a gymnast, what sport would you do or try?If I weren’t a gymnastics I would try dance, softball, or volleyball.
Which athletes (any sport) do you respect the most and why? I really respect gymnasts because it can be very mentally draining and there are so many injuries that you need to stay mentally tough and persevere.
Something you learned from Gymnastics that you will take with you? I have learned to never give up because life throws you so many obsticles and you need to push through when it gets hard.
Most Memorable Gymnastics or JO Nationals Moment? My most memorable moment is at JO Nationals when I was one of the last ones to compete on floor and all of the seniors came over to watch my group finish (two of my teammates were in that group) and I knew that when I finished my floor routine that I had completed my best meet yet!
What is the most valuable piece of advice or wisdom your coach has given you? My coach always says “it’s not what happens, it’s how you react to what happens” I use this a lot because people make mistakes and you can fix the mistakes, as long as you keep a good attitude.
Bonus Question: Tell me something interesting about yourself…. I am 100% Polish!