Elite and NCAA Gymnast Training Updates—Part 5


Full Twist contributor Anna Rose Johnson recently caught up with some elite, Level 10, and NCAA gymnasts to discuss their training, future goals, and more.

Wynter Childers, Jaylene Gilstrap, Clare Johnson, Noël Van Klaveren, Isabelle Lee, Jaclyn McCartin, Emily Stone, Mickayla Stuckey, and Emily White provided us with thoughtful insights into their training.



Wynter Childers is a Level 10 gymnast who trains at Spearfish Gymnastics in Spearfish, South Dakota. Her coaches are Phil and Chris Summers and Lexie Cathcart. “Training is going well!” Wynter told Full Twist. “We are starting get back into routine mode and perfecting some newer skills. Just working on getting stronger and more confident as competition season comes closer!”

The 16-year-old explained, “My goals this year are to qualify and place top 3 at the Nastia Cup and JO Nationals. I recently made a verbal commitment to the University of Alabama so a goal for the future is to be a part of [the] national championship team at the University of Alabama.”

Wynter placed seventh in the all-around in the senior division of the 2014 Nastia Liukin Cup. “I loved meeting Nastia and getting a chance to talk to her before the meet,” said Wynter. “You also get a lot of clothes and leos and stuff so that was really cool! I really liked competing on podium and it’s a fun experience to have the cameras around you while you’re competing in such a big arena.”

When asked if she might try elite gymnastics, Wynter remarked, “For 2015 I will just be doing Level 10. Maybe in 2016, but for now I’m happy where I am!”



 Jaylene Gilstrap is a U.S. HOPES gymnast who trains at Metroplex Gymnastics. At the U.S. Challenge on August 1st, Jaylene placed 4th in the all-around in the Age 12-13 division with a score of 51.050.

“Things are going great and I’m working really hard every day to get better,” Jaylene told Full Twist. “I am very blessed to have coaches and teammates that push me hard every day.”

“It was such an amazing experience,” said Jaylene when asked to reflect on her experiences at the U.S. Challenge. “I loved competing in such a cool arena alongside all of the incredible gymnasts. I also really enjoyed seeing Chicago with my family.”

“For the rest of 2014 my goals are to get the upgraded skills I have learned over the summer into my routines and work hard to polish them to be ready for next season,” commented Jaylene, whose best event at the U.S. Challenge was vault. “Next year I look forward to [having a great season with my team at Metroplex] and having fun doing the sport I love.”

Jaylene told us, “My next competition will be at the end of January at The Metroplex Challenge in Fort Worth. I can’t wait!!”



Clare Johnson is a U.S. trampoline gymnast who trains at The Matrix Gym Inc. She recently placed fifth with her team at the 2014 Pan American Championships in Toronto, Canada. “Training has been very good!” Clare told Full Twist. “I’ve been injury free so far and that allows me to do my best in practice and maintain a higher level of intensity since we have World Championships in less than a month. I’ll be performing my normal routine, with a 13.8 Difficulty; it’s a routine I have been able to perform for some time in competition and I feel is really good to compete at World level. I’ve [been] working more on specific connections until now and at the beginning of this week full routines. I like to have a good amount of full routines in practice to be comfortable to compete.”

Clare, who was the 2014 USA Gymnastics Championships bronze medalist in synchro, told us that “USA Championships was not my best competition, I made one big mistake, which I don’t usually make, and that cost me my participation in finals. On the other hand I learned a lot from that competition and in a way I changed my way of competing and the way I face the competition. With that lesson learned, the very next competition, Senior Pan Am Qualifier, I was able to not only make finals, but to qualify the U.S. for the Pan American Games to be held in Toronto next year. I was extremely happy with the way I competed there since it was my first international [competition] representing the USA as a senior and second competition altogether. At USA Championships I had a lot of fun watching the other disciplines that were combined with ours, got to know more gymnasts from those disciplines and had the chance to jump in an amazing arena, which we don’t always get to do. So in the end, USA Championships were not the best in terms of result, but the motivation and learning I brought from it was tremendous.”

On September 19th, Clare was announced as a member of the 2014 U.S. World Championships team. “To be a part of the U.S. World Championships Team was the biggest goal I had this year. I’m extremely happy I achieved that goal, particularly because it’s my first year as a senior and to be a part of that team with already more experienced gymnasts makes me enormously happy. Now, Worlds are just a month away and I really want to perform at my normal level. I would be happy to complete all my routines, that’s without a doubt the priority goal, and as a hard goal I set for myself [to] achieve the semi-final stage of World Championships. I realize it’s a very hard goal to achieve, since I’ll be competing against the best trampoline gymnasts of the world, but it’s a goal I think it can be within my reach if I push myself to be at my best, and that’s what I am working to achieve.” The World Trampoline and Tumbling Championships will be held November 7th-9th in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Clare shared with us her goals in gymnastics: “The ultimate goal is to perform at the Olympic Games more than once. Qualifications for Rio 2016 are at the 2015 World Championships to be held in Odense, Denmark, so obviously to be a part of 2015 USA World Team is the next big goal to achieve. Meanwhile there are other goals that will also help me achieve that, like to be able to participate in the World Cup Series for example, it would bring me more international experience and would prepare me to perform better at high level competitions. At this particular moment I believe I have a Difficulty level that matches world level, but I would also like to increase it for next year. Along with that comes increasing form of skills as well as Time of Flight, which now it’s a very big part of the score. For those not inside Trampoline Gymnastics, Time of Flight consists in the time we are in the air, there is a machine that counts the seconds of the air time, and the number of seconds are automatically converted to a score, for example, if a routine takes 15.875 seconds, that’s 15.875 points added to execution and difficulty score, so the higher you jump the more direct points you have on your score. To be able to jump higher has been a daily goal, since it’s my Achilles heel, therefore it is my most immediate goal.”




Noël Van Klaveren is an elite artistic gymnast from the Netherlands. She competed at the 2013 World Championships, placing 20th in the all-around final with a score of 54.999.

“My workouts are currently going fine,” Noël told Full Twist. “I got a bone bruise on my patellar tendon. I am carefully rebuilding, and that actually feels well. I also do a lot of [physical] therapy, and I also do a lot of strength for my legs [so] that [they] will be stronger. I assume that I am not [going to] participate at the Worlds 2014 in Nanning…I find it very difficult, especially because I was good in shape and I was ready for the qualifications.” Noël added, “From the Netherlands here all my happiness for the girls [as] they compete this week at the Worlds!”

When asked when her next competition might be, 19-year-old Noël explained, “Now my recovery first. This year I might have some contests. I want to close this year with a good feeling. I actually have a bad year behind [me]. I’ve missed the Europeans in Sofia. My father is fighting against cancer, he’s currently doing well.”

Noël told us her goals in gymnastics: “My first goal when I am recovered in the short term is the Europeans 2015 and on long term the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Then, I’ll see what the future brings me!”



Isabelle Lee is a Level 10 artistic gymnast who trains at 10.0 Academy in Massachusetts. “Training has been going great!” she told Full Twist. “We are trying to keep a balance of being healthy, while also preparing for the upcoming season and putting routines back together. Hopefully I will be adding some of the skills I have been working on over the summer.”

Isabelle tied for 28th in the Junior B division of the 2014 J.O. National Championships. “J.O. Nationals was absolutely amazing!” she remarked. “It’s a little intimidating seeing so many great gymnasts from all over the nation, but it is also very exciting. Overall, I was really happy with how I did, and I think it was a great experience that has definitely helped me feel more confident and optimistic for the next couple of years.”

When asked about her goals in the sport, Isabelle said, “Short term goals are mainly to have a consistent season and make J.O.’s again! Long term would be competing for a division 1 gymnastics school, and just having fun.”

“Our first real competition will be towards the end of November so a little bit less than two months,” explained Isabelle. “We have already begun the process of working on routines again, and they are going really well so I am excited to get the season started and see what this year has in store.



Jaclyn McCartin is a former elite gymnast who now competes at the University of Washington. She competed at the first ever Nastia Liukin Cup in 2010 and also at the 2010 Visa Championships. “Training has been off and on due to my recent injuries,” Jaclyn told Full Twist in early September. “I had a fall that injured both of my elbows resulting in surgery. My left arm was repaired at the end of July and I am healing well. My right arm’s surgery is scheduled for next Friday and then I can recover and get back to training! I will be competing beam for my senior season. In the meantime I am working with my coaches and trainers to stay in shape and condition so I can be back as fast as possible. They have been so supportive and encouraging through this time. I am blessed to be able to at least compete one event in my last season of college gymnastics and I thank God every day.”

Jaclyn, who is nicknamed Jackie, explained that “my goals are to compete beam for my team and make it to Nationals with them. I would also love to compete beam at Nationals as well. I also want to be a support system to the rest of my team and be able to help them in any way I can since I will only be competing one event.”

Jackie told us, “My goal has always been to return to Elite after college, at least for beam. That event holds a special place in my heart and I am not ready for my gymnastics career to be over. An ultimate goal is to be able to make it to World Championships. This is all stuff to consider after college because my team is my family and my family is my main priority.”



Emily Stone is a Level 10 artistic gymnast from Dallas, Texas. She has committed to competing NCAA gymnastics at Louisiana State University. “My training is going really well!” Emily told Full Twist. “I am really having so much fun! I am preparing for my last level 10 season before going off to LSU to continue my gymnastics career there. I am cleaning up old skills and adding some more upgrades in order to raise my difficulty. But overall it’s been great!”

Emily placed 15th in the all-around at the 2013 Level 10 Regional 3 Championships with a score of 35.500. She explained, “My goals for gymnastics range day to day. I have my short term goals and my long term goals. My short term goals right now are to be as prepared as I can be for [this] season, and do my very best. Since it is my last season of J.O. I would like to make it to Nationals. One of my long term goals is shared with my future LSU teammates. We are all so close and we all have the goal of winning a National Championship! I would also love to compete bars for LSU, and be the best tiger I can be!”

The 17-year old said that her next competition “will be next year in January or February! I’m really excited for the meets my gym, Zenith, is attending. I know I’ll get to go to Canada which will be so much fun!”



Mickayla Stuckey is a U.S. HOPES gymnast who trains at Perfection Gymnastics School. She competed at the U.S. Challenge in August and placed 14th in the Age 12-13 division. “My training has been going really well,” Mickayla told Full Twist. “I am working on upgrades on every event to try to bring up my D scores. I broke my big toe, so that put a small damper on vault/tumbling for a week or so. Other than that, everything has been great! I am glad to be working lots of new skills.”

“The U.S. Challenge was such an amazing experience!” said Mickayla. “I had a lot of fun and I loved meeting new gymnasts. The meet itself had some ups and downs, but it was a great learning experience. I did one of my best bar routines I have done in competition and got 3rd place. I was really happy about that!”

Mickayla commented on her goals for the rest of 2014 and beyond: “I am going to try to qualify junior elite this season. I have been working really hard for a long time to achieve this goal. It would be amazing if I can qualify and make it to [the U.S.] Championships since it is being held in Indianapolis in 2015. It would be great to be able to compete at such a big meet in my home state.”

“My first competition this year will be at the end of Jan/first of Feb,” Mickayla told us. “I will compete a couple events at Circle of Stars and then start competing at the qualifiers at Buckeye and WOGA.”



Emily White is a Level 10 gymnast who won the beam title at the Junior Olympic NIT. “My training has been going extremely well at High Point Gymnastics Academy in High Point, NC,” Emily told Full Twist. “This season, I’m going to upgrade many of my routines and add new skills, such as a jaeger on bars, a Liukin aerial on beam, Rudi to split jump and back 1 and a 1/2 punch front full. My outlook on the new season is bright, and I’m hoping I can show how hard I’ve worked in the gym this summer out on the competition floor.”

When asked about her experience at the NIT, Emily replied, “Going into the 2014 NIT, I had nothing to lose. Prior to Regionals, I had an ankle injury and was unable to fully prepare myself to make Nationals. I had a great time competing at NIT, and the girls in my rotation were very supportive. We cheered each other on, and it was like we made our own team! I was fortunate enough to walk away with the balance beam gold medal, which was a great way to end my year.”

Emily explained her goals to us: “I have two more years left in the J.O. program, and I hope to make it to Nationals both years. I honestly just want to have fun doing the sport I love, and also to be a good role model for the younger levels at my gym. Ever since I was a compulsory gymnast, I dreamed of one day competing on a collegiate team. I have committed to Iowa State University and will join the program during the 2016-2017 season. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me out in Ames and I cannot wait to be part of such a great program with such amazing girls!”

“I don’t think elite gymnastics is in the cards for me at this point in my career,” Emily commented when asked if she might try elite. “I’m very content with Level 10, and my club gym does not offer an elite program. I love my teammates as if they’re my family, and I couldn’t imagine finishing up my high school career anywhere else.”

Special thanks to all the gymnasts for chatting with us! Stay tuned for Part 6, which will include updates with Chelsea Davis, Raer Theaker, and others!


Image via VI Images

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