As Summer is turning to fall and the class of 2020 has said goodbye to their friends, family and teammates and moved into their new homes to make new friends, new teammates and new memories I would like to recognize one more graduating senior for the class of 2020. Emily Justa, of Hunts Gymnastics, did not finish her gymnastics career as she had hoped however one of her biggest accomplishments was returning from a knee injury to except a scholarship to Brockport to continue our gymnastics career at the collegiate level. Emilee is a true inspiration for all athletes who may be returning from injury and struggling to find their way however there is still a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and collegiate athletics can still be in your future as well. Congratulations to Emily, Who moved into school this weekend, on all her accomplishments well the inside and outside of the gym. Let’s get to know Emily a little better as she starts the next chapter of her academic and athletic career in New York.
How did you get into gymnastics? How old were you? I started gymnastics when I was 3. My mom chose gymnastics instead of dance because it was only a month long commitment. If only she knew.
What is your favorite event? My favorite event is floor because I love the feeling of performing and just tumbling in general.
What is your favorite skill to compete/train? One of my favorite skills is a 1½ on floor because it’s a simpler skill but I love the fact that I know exactly where I’m at, even in the air.
What is your dream skill? Some of my dream skills would be a double layout on the floor or a ray on bars.
What is your favorite part of gymnastics? One of my favorite parts of gymnastics is the fact there’s always something new, whether its skills, drills, or making new friends at camps and competitions.
What college are you attending? Why? I’m planning on attending SUNY Brockport because when I visited there I felt like I was at the right place. Everyone was so welcoming and made me feel like I was already part of the team. I’m very excited to be part of their team in the fall.
What Is your favorite meat to compete at? Why?My favorite meet to compete at was home meets because it is your moment to perform in your community. Your friends and family are there supporting you. Even the little gymnasts are there to cheer their team on.
What Is your biggest accomplishment in Gymnastics so far? My biggest accomplishment in gymnastics was coming back this year after my knee surgery last year. It was difficult but I worked hard to be able to do what I love in order to compete during my senior year.
What Is your favorite Region 5 feature or series? Why? My favorite Region 5 Feature probably would be the 20 questions because I love reading through them and learning more about other gymnasts.
What Are three things you could not live without?Three things I couldn’t live without would be my family, my phone and music.
If you could have any superpower what would it be and why? If I could have one superpower it would be super speed. I like to be fast whether it’s running or doing a task quicker.
Talk about what it was like not being able to finish your senior year and how you dealt with thatNot being able to finish my senior was definitely disappointing and I wish it could’ve been similar to everyone else’s. However, it does make me appreciate the little moments and everything that everyone is doing for us a little bit more because they are trying to make the best out of the situation.
What have you been doing to keep up with your training during your time out of the gym due to quarantine? I have been keeping up my training during quarantine by doing zoom workouts with my team and doing runs and bike rides with my siblings.
What do you miss the most about not being in the gym? During this time I really miss being able to flip and being with my gym family.
What is the first thing you want to do once you return back to the gym? The first thing I would want to do once I could get back into the gym and training would be to just hug the floor for a moment because this time has been overwhelming as everything changed so quickly.
What will you miss most about being part of Region 5? What I would miss most about Region 5 is seeing the friends and familiar faces that I’ve met throughout Region 5.
What is your most embarrassing Gymnastics or meet moment? My most embarrassing meet moment was when I had a meet on my birthday and my team was getting ready to start warmup when I realized my warmup jacket zipper was stuck. We ran around asking different coaches and other girls to try to help me get the zipper down. Nobody was able to get it down so we went to stands to ask for help. After multiple people, someone was able to get it down. Lets just say I didn’t wear that jacket for the rest of the day.
Do you have a nickname? If so what is it and how did you get it? My nickname is just Em, however I do occasionally get called Jess because people get my sister (who is also a gymnast) and I mixed up. They usually just refer to us as the Justa girls.
Who is an athlete you respect in any sport and why?An athlete I respect the most is Shawn Johnson not just because she was a great gymnast but because even after gymnastics her life never stopped. She has a great family now and seems to always stay positive and takes things in strides.
What is one thing you learned from the sport of gymnastics that you will take with you? One thing I learned from Gymnastics and will take with me is to take one thing at a time. This was always something I have to remind myself otherwise I’ll get overwhelmed and stressed. Being able to focus on one thing helped me to be able to do the task at hand. Also it helps to focus on the present to make the best of what’s happening in that moment. It helps keep a positive mindset.
What is your most memorable Gymnastics moment? My most memorable gymnastics moment was level 8 regionals. I was part of Team Michigan. I did an amazing vault that helped Team Michigan win and it was the highest vault score for the meet.
What is the most valuable piece of wisdom or advice you have received from your coaches? The most valuable piece of wisdom my coach, Shannon Hunt, has ever given me was right after I tore my ACL, I asked her if gymnastics and even college gymnastics was still an option. She immediately reassured me that everything would be fine. She told me I was so strong and hard-working that she had no doubt in her mind that I would have a full recovery. Also that if it was anyone else in my position, she might have told them to retire, but she had faith in me that I could do it. It was everything I needed to hear. It made me feel optimistic about my recovery.
How do you want to be remembered?I want to be remembered as somebody who always tried their best no matter the circumstances. Not everyday is perfect but if you work hard you’ll be able to do whatever you put your mind to. I always wanted to be a good example for all the little gymnasts at the gym, so I did my best to do just that.
What did your friends and teammates do to make your senior year special ? All the support I’ve had throughout this time made so much easier. The facetimes with my friends, google meets with my teachers, and my family doing everything they can to help me to still have a special senior year that I am supposed to have. Getting little gifts from my friends just so we see each other. Baking cookies to give people on holidays. All these little moments make everything more special.
Bonus Question: tell me something interesting about yourself …….Something interesting about me is that my only other injury besides my knee injury was a mild concussion. I got it at practice but not because of anything gymnastics related instead I got it because I was running backwards and ran into someone.