The Official Student-Run Newspaper of California High School

The Californian

The Official Student-Run Newspaper of California High School

The Californian

The Official Student-Run Newspaper of California High School

The Californian

Gymnast flips to West Coast Finals

by Shalaka Gole, news editor

Freshman. Fourteen. Four-foot-11. Female. These are all words that could be used to describe any number of girls in the world.

But the thing that sets freshman Melissa Chambers apart is the first word she might use to describe herself: gymnast.

Chambers, who has been practicing gymnastics since she was four years old and competing since the age of eight, has recently attained the high rank of Level 9 in gymnastics.

To put this in perspective, college gymnasts are Level 10, the top level before Olympians.

She recently ranked secondnd in the state, and 11th in the Western Nationals Competition against all junior Olympic gymnasts west of the Mississippi. Chambers does this while maintaining an A average.

“I train five days a week for four and a half hours,” said Chambers. “ I want to compete in college.”

Motivation comes easily to Chambers, whose favorite apparatus is the beam.

“You watch all the big kids and you think, ‘Oh my gosh, I want to do that’,” she said.

Her role models are surprisingly not Olympians but people she knows.

“I really admire my former teammates who have gotten full scholarships to college,” she said.

The road to this achievement at such a young age has not been an easy one, and Chambers continues to work hard every day to improve her skill level.

“When you get injured it’s really hard,” she said. “You always get little setbacks.”

Her daily schedule consists of school until 3 p.m., traveling straight to gymnastics and training until about 9 p.m., and then going home to eat dinner and begin her homework.

“She has to have amazing time management,” said her mother, Michelle Chambers. “She’s very driven.”

A passion for gymnastics came naturally for MelissaChambers, despite her diverse childhood activities. She played soccer, danced, and was on the swim team from a young age.

“She just kept choosing gymnastics over everything else,” said Michelle Chambers. “She loves it.”

Though gymnastics is the best choice for Melissa Chambers, it is not always the easiest. Meets and competitions are regularly held all over the West Coast. In the past year alone, the Chambers family have traveled to San Diego, Long Beach, Oregon, Idaho, and Las Vegas for meets every other weekend during the five-month long gymnastics season.

“Gymnastics is a huge commitment for both Melissa and the family but it is her passion and her dream,” said Michelle Chambers.

Intense dedication to her sport also changes Melissa Chambers’s social circle from the average student.

“It’s definitely two different social lives – school and gym,” she said.

Whenever her school friends ask her to hang out on the weekends, Melissa Chambers said her answer is almost always the same ,“No, I have gym(nastics). Again.”

But her friends continue to stand behind their accomplished friend.

“I don’t know anyone who does what she does,” said freshman Kaelin Delaney. “She’s at a pretty high level.”

They even have higher aims for their friend than she does for herself.  Melissa Chambers plans to stop after college level NCAA gymnastics.

“She would like to be a doctor, she’s very career driven,” said Michelle.

Melissa Chambers agrees, saying it’s not realistic to aim for the Olympics. Her friend, freshman Allie Fajardo disagrees.

“I think she’ll be in the Olympics,” Fajardo said.

But Melissa Chambers’s passion for gymnastics seems not to lie in the medals and accolades, but in the simpler pleasures.

“Just when I get there and start working,” she said. “It’s fun.”

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