MARQUETTE - Flying, twisting and leaping through the air is challenging - physically and mentally - but these are the challenges that a gymnast lives for.
Rachel Snow, 17, is a senior gymnast for Marquette Senior High School's team. Snow's interest in gymnastics started her freshman year, she said. She started at a community school and then joined the varsity team her sophomore year. Snow started out on bars and beam at first, then added vault and floor exercises in her junior year.
"My favorite event is floor because you get to show your personality through your music and you just get to have a lot of fun with it," Snow said.
Senior Rachel Snow demostrates a leap at practice Wednesday. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
As she expected, gymnastics is physically challenging. A person has to be fit and able to endure a lot. But there is a mental challenge to gymnastics, when it comes to performing and trying new things.
"Right before I perform I just get into this zone and think, 'OK, this is what I need to do,' and I just kind of let all the background noise disappear," Snow said. "Once you start (performing), you kind of forget everyone is there until it's over."
Snow said one of her biggest achievement so far has been learning all four events - there's a steep learning curve. The last event Snow learned was vault because of the mental challenge, she said.
"It was mentally challenging for me to run at a stationary object and it just really scared me," Snow said. "I slowly got over that fear but there is definitely still some there."
The other mentally challenging part about gymnastics is trying to not get frustrated, Snow said.
"A lot of times you get really frustrated and you have to learn to just breathe, clear your mind and then go get a drink of water and try it again," she said. "Sometimes stuff is really difficult and you just get frustrated."
Snow's advice for someone that is just starting out in gymnastics is to never be afraid to try something new, she said.
"You should just keep the mind set that you can do anything if you," Snow said. "If you really work hard you can achieve your goals."
After high school, Snow said she plans to teach gymnastic basics to younger kids at a local gym that will be opening in Marquette.
"I'm looking forward to teaching because learning how to teach gymnastics helps me be better at my own gymnastics," she said.
More immediately, Snow's goal for the season is to make it to regionals, she said. To do that, she'll have to get a minimum score in all four events at three different competitions. She will need a 7.8 on floor, 7.9 on vault, 7.4 on beam and a 6.8 on bars. All scores are out of a possible 10.
"I love gymnastics because it's challenging and I love to take up a challenge," Snow said.
Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-486-4401.