Its Sunday! That mean its 202Q Senior Sunday!!!! We are continuing our recognition of our Region 5 Class of 2020 graduates! These athletes have faced so much adversity in the last 4 months is it absolutely insane, especially here in Michigan were we still are not back to practicing indoors! However, these young student-athletes are resilient, strong, determined and able to take on anything that is thrown their way.
Our next 2020 Graduate, along with her teammates, has had one crazy 2020 & its not even July yet! Kaitlyn Donovan of Oakland Gymnastics started 2020 in mourning and ended her 2020 senior season relatively the same way. I can definitely relate to this on a personal level having also experienced loss early in 2020. Kaitlyn, who will be continuing her
academics & athletics in the fall at the Illinois State University, has always been a great team leader and role model for the younger athletes on her Oakland Team especially this year when they defiantly needed her strength, love & maturity. I definitely think that 2020 could of been Kaitlyns year and she could of possibly snagged a spot at the 2020 JO National Championships! Kaitlyn has improved so much in the last few years and ISU is going to be lucky to have this powerful athlete! I can see continued upgrades in her future and cannot wait to see what collegiate gymnastics holds for this athlete! The best is yet to come I believe, so lets get to know Kaitlyn a little better as she looks towards the next chapter as an ISU Red Bird.
How did you get into gymnastics? How old were you? My parents started me in a mommy and me class when I was the age of 2. I played other sports, like soccer, then ultimately chose gymnastics because my parents and I felt like it was more my speed.
What is your favorite event? Why? My favorite event is vault, because over the years I’ve realized that it comes easy to me and I feel more accomplished when I try a new vault. I also like playing around with different types of vaults to see which are potential to compete.
Favorite Skill to train/compete? Why? My favorite skill to train is a full in, because I feel like it comes easy to me and I know where I am. My favorite skill to compete is my front layout rudi connection, because it’s new this year and I love hitting that pass to finish off my floor routine.
Dream Skill? My Dream skill is definitely a delchev on bars.
What is your favorite part of gymnastics? My club family. Oakland has been through a lot this year and I ultimately think it’s made me closer to my teammates and my coaches. Being close with them makes practice a lot more entertaining, especially when we all work really hard… the environment is extremely positive and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What college do you plan on attending? Why? I plan on attending Illinois State University in the fall. When I visited in October, the team made me feel so welcomed, and my coaches, Bob, Megan, and Chris, all have really big plans for my four years at ISU, which will hopefully include us winning conferences!
What is your favorite meet to compete at? Why? My favorite meet to compete at is Elevate the Stage in Toledo, Ohio. I love competing on the podium and seeing all of the amazing competition that attends the meet motivate me to be my best.
Biggest accomplishment in gymnastics so far? I would say committing to Illinois State. I worked really hard over the summer and my coaches were there right by my side to help. I felt like when I committed, I not only made my family proud, but I made my club proud.
What is your favorite Region 5 Insider Feature or Series? My favorite Region 5 Insider Series is the coaches wired. I like watching them to see what other coaches have to say and different coaching styles within Region 5.
If you could have 1 superpower what would it be? If I could have 1 superpower it would be to be able to read minds.
Discuss not being able to finish your senior season like you had hoped. This season, my coaches and I worked really hard to push us. We all had the mindset that this was going to be the year I qualified for nationals and we were willing to do what it took to get me to that point. My coaches brought in national team staff and elite choreographers, along with changing my routines at some points to make them more presentable. When we found out the state meet was cancelled, we found a reason to work harder, because regionals were only a month and a half away. When I found out regionals were then cancelled, followed by nationals, I was pretty upset. Looking back now, I’m happy with the meet I ended my season on, hitting 4/4 routines, and I can’t wait to get back in the gym and train for college.
What are you doing to keep up your training during Corona Quarantine?During Corona Quarantine my team and I have zoom practices every day for an hour and a half. I also lift weights, go on runs, hike, bike ride, do yoga, ankle strength and flexibility.
What is the first thing you want to do once you can get back to gym & training? Once I get my timing back, I want to put my full out dismount on the hard mat on bars. I’ve been working on these in the summer for the past two years and I can’t wait to finally conquer it.
What will you miss most about being part of Region 5? I think I’ll miss Brett from Twistars the most. Oakland got the opportunity to see Brett at meets this season, and he always manages to hype anyone up and give that positive energy.
Most embarrassing meet moment or gymnastics moment? A few months ago, we had Lumi, the coach from the national team staff, in our gym to train with the optionals. We were doing her beam warmup, and it was one of my first times training with her, and I completely crotched the beam and ate the ground really hard on a single leg squat. Lumi and my teammates proceeded to laugh at me, and I was shortly moved to the low beam for the entirety of the squats.
Do you have a nickname? If so, what Is the story behind it? My nickname is Don. When I first came to Oakland, there were 3 Kaitlyns on my level 6 team. My coach thought it would’ve been easier to call me Donovan, and throughout the years, it was shortened to Don.
Which athletes (any sport) do you respect the most and why? I respect Michael Jordan, because I love his work ethic and his desire to win at all costs. He had an amazing impact on his team, and I hope to have a similar impact on mine one day.
Something you learned from Gymnastics that you will take with you? My time management. Gymnastics has taught me how to get in a routine to make sure I’m efficient throughout my day, and without it, I wouldn’t leave my bed.
Most Memorable Gymnastics or Nationals Moment? My most memorable gymnastics moment would be coming into the gym every day and giving Coach Renee a hug. It makes both of us feel more positive, even on the bad days.
What is the most valuable piece of advice or wisdom your coach has given you? It isn’t just one piece of advice, but over the course of the 2019-2020 season, Coach Ruth would tell me how powerful I was and to trust in myself more. I believe that advice, and to point my feet, helped me become the gymnast, and person, I am today.
How do you want to be remembered, but us here in Region 5 as well as your home club & teammates? I want to be remembered as a leader and a positive impact. I remember when I was younger, looking up to the “big girls” in the gym. Now that I’m leaving for college, I hope that those younger girls look up to me as their “big girl”.
What is something special your friends, family, school, coaches or teammates, have done for you during this quarantine to make missing out on those special senior moments a little easier to handle? My school is currently doing “senior night” for each of the senior athletes. Once quarantine is over, the senior class girls and I at Father Gabriel Richard plan on painting our uniform skirts the colors of where we’re going to college. I get to see my coaches and teammates everyday via zoom workouts, which makes being stuck at home a little better.
Bonus Question: Tell me something interesting about yourself…. At the beginning of the season, I acquired two bracelets. One reads “OGF- In loving memory of Chris Miller”, and the other says “Supporting the fighters. Admiring the survivors. Honoring the taken. And never, ever giving up hope.” I have never taken either of these off, including during practice, school, showers, and I even wear them under the sleeves of my competition leo. I know it’s probably disgusting, but they’re very special to me and I don’t ever want to lose them.