20 Questions has been on vacation, but we are back with a new crop of athletes to get to know a little better. Our first athlete up in 2020 was a first time JO National Qualifier in 2019, hails from Michigan and loves the color purple. Marissa Rojas from Michigan Academy of Gymnastics exploded onto the JO scene in 2019 qualifying to her first JO Nationals, representing Region 2, as a first year Level 10! Marissa is definitely one to watch this season, she has upgraded many areas of her Gymnastics but most noteworthy would be the upgrades to her Balance Beam Routine. I saw Marissa at the 2020 Circle of Stars meet in Indianapolis Indiana at the beginning of this month and was blown away by her Balance Beam, finishing with a new double back dismount that she nearly stuck! I cannot wait to see what the rest of the season holds for this talented young athlete. As Marissa prepares to head into the Championships, in a few weeks, let’s get to know her a little better.
How did you get into gymnastics? How old were you? I started gymnastics when I was ten years old. I was a competitive dancer for a few years, and an acro class was offered at my studio. I took the class to try it out and picked up skills pretty quickly. The acro teacher then talked to my Mom and recommended I go try gymnastics.
What is your favorite event? I enjoy all four events because they are all unique in their own way. Each event has its own skills I must accomplish and a different approach to them as well. But, if I had to pick one it would be vault because I love the feeling of flying through the air.
Favorite Skill to train/compete My favorite skill to compete is full out dismount on bars.
Dream Skill? My dream skill is a double layout on floor.
What is your favorite part of gymnastics? My favorite part of gymnastics is the feeling you get once you have nailed a routine! I also love the friendships and traveling you get to experience throughout the season.
What college do you plan on attending? I am currently undecided about which college I am going to attend but I know that I want to continue gymnastics and be part of a great educational environment.
What is your favorite meet to compete at? Why? My favorite meet to compete at is the Christmas Classic. It is always in December, so it is like a kickoff to our upcoming season. We wear Christmas socks during warmup and there is always a relaxed atmosphere. This meet is pretty close to where I live, so my family is able to come and watch me compete too!
Biggest accomplishment in gymnastics so far? My biggest accomplishment in gymnastics was getting to go and experience nationals as a first year level 10.
What is your favorite Region 5 Insider Feature or Series? My favorite Region 5 feature is the Coaches Wired because it gives us an inside look at other coaches in region 5. It is interesting to hear a coach’s perspective during the meets.
What kinds of things really make you laugh? The kinds of things that really make me laugh are whenever I’m hanging out with my friends. We have a ton of inside jokes, and our conversations always end up with us bursting out laughing.
3 Things you could not live without? I can not live without my family/friends, gymnastics, and fruit.
If you could be any animal, what animal would you be and why? If I could be any animal I would be a butterfly. I would be a butterfly because it would be so cool to fly around the world and I love the beautiful colors and patterns they have.
5 Most Important or Must have Items in your gym bag? In my gym bag, the 5 most important items are my grips, water bottle, tape, hair ties, and a leotard.
Do you have any pre-meet rituals or superstitions? The night before the meet, I like to write in my journal. I also make sure I get a good night’s sleep. The day of the meet, I have a protein shake, healthy meals, and get ready to go.
What do you like to do outside of Gymnastics? Outside of gymnastics, I like to hangout with my friends and family, read, do puzzles, be outside, and go shopping.
Most embarrassing meet moment or gymnastics moment? The most embarrassing meet moment was on bars. When I was competing, I had fallen on a release in my routine. I had to get back on the high bar, so my coach helped me jump onto the bar, but when I jumped, I touched the bar but missed it, so it counted as another fall.
Do you have a nickname? If so what Is the story behind it? My mom has always called me ¨chiquita¨ which means little one in spanish and my coach started calling me this after he heard my mom call me it. Also, I have always been really tiny so it stuck with me.
Which athletes (any sport) do you respect the most and why? I respect all athletes because they all work hard to achieve their goals to be successful. One athlete that has always stuck out to me was Shawn Johnson. Shawn has always been an inspiration to me and someone who I have looked up to. She has a strong work ethic, is powerful, and is extremely dedicated.
Something you learned from Gymnastics that you will take with you? Something I learned from gymnastics that I will take with me is that hard work always pays off.
Most Memorable Gymnastics or JO Nationals Moment? My most memorable gymnastics moment was going to level 10 nationals. This was a great experience and it was awesome to see people from all over the country compete.
What is the most valuable piece of advice or wisdom your coach has given you? The most valuable piece of advice or wisdom my coach has given me is that I can be as great as I want to be. I just need to work hard, and be confident in myself. Another piece of advice my coach has given me is to take it one skill at a time.
Bonus Question: Tell me something interesting about yourself…. Something interesting about myself is that I know how to play the piano a little bit.