By Emilee Ivan
As she walks onto the floor, her nerves begin to grow. Around her is a cheering crowd waiting to be impressed. She begins to run, building speed as she approaches the vault. Gliding through the air using all of her strength, she goes for the handspring. As she lands, her arms lift towards the sky and the crowd roars. The hard work put into this sport makes every moment feel worthwhile.
Taylor Novotny’s dedication and love for the sport of gymnastics inspired her to reach her goal of going to sectionals.
Since Novotny was three she has been learning and mastering the art of gymnastics. From the moment she set foot on the floor, love and passion for this sport exploded into drive and determination. Novotny competes in four different types of events including floor, bar, beam, and vault.
“My favorite event is vault because I think it’s the most fun. I complete a tsuk which I really like doing,” Novotny said.
Novotny’s favorite skill, a tsuk, is a skill that is completed on the vault. The tsuk begins with a roundoff and as the feet reach towards the ground the gymnast goes into a backflip.
Novotny completed this skill at sectionals with a panel of judges and fans all around. Surrounded by a crowd full of fans wanting perfection made each heart beat faster and faster. Each gymnast faces this feeling and must decide what to do with it. Novotny however, takes her nerves, conquers them and directs them in a positive way.
“Usually our meets are pretty relaxed and fun but sometimes they can be nerve-wracking. Everyone cheers for each other and watches as they compete” Novotny said.
Novotny’s shows her drive by scoring high at all of her competitions. In gymnastics, the highest score you can get is a 40. Novotny’s scores consistently ranged in the 30s. Her highest score was at Glenbard East with a score of 33.7. Her friends and family have said that they can see how hard Novotny is working and her scores prove that.
“Although not all her friends can go to every meet, we always send our love and support,” said Natalie Ferber, a friend of Novotny. “Her family is always there for her and has been since the beginning. Her teammates and coaches are also great motivators, pushing her to be the best that she can be.”
One of the things Novotny has said about her team is how supportive and uplifting her teammates are when she competes.
“My team gives me the confidence to do skills when I do not have confidence in myself. Their encouragement allows me to be more positive as well” Novotny said.
Novotny is especially close with her teammates because they all understand the amount of work it takes to be a gymnast.
“Taylor is very talented, but her motivation stands out. She will work hard and the rest of the team follows,” said Haley Aharoni, a teammate of Novotny’s. “She loves the sport and always wants to get better.”
The bond that Novotny and her team have created impacts their spirits when competing together.
Novotny’s role as a motivator helps the team strive for greatness.
“She always has a good attitude and is motivated,” said Aharoni, “and that is given off to the rest of the team.”
Not only that, but Novotny is an honor roll student who takes the time out of her busy day to maintain her grades.
“Taylor is a good student and gets good grades,” Aharoni said. “I think she balances homework and studying well and doesn’t slack off.”
With lots of homework and practices, Novotny’s free time was limited because of her dedication towards making to to sectionals.
Novotny’s road to sectionals began when Novotny was the only member of her team to qualify for sectionals. After getting a 32.15 on her all-around score, Novotny found out that she qualified for sectionals.
“I was very excited to find out that I qualified since I had been working so hard,” Novotny said.
Competing at a high level continues to motivate Novotny to do her best at every performance.
Gymnastics’ standards are raised because only a few people can qualify for sectionals. Novotny has said that she acknowledges these hardships but is determined because of it.
“My personal goals I set for myself motivate me,” Novotny said.
Setting these goals forces Novotny to put on her game face and aim for greatness. The goals Novotny sets and completes are not unnoticed.
“Taylor uses her time very diligently to balance school, gymnastics, and her social life. She knows what has to get done when and is always on top of things,” Ferber said.
This motivation includes Novotny’s practices. Novotny and her team practiced every day after school for two or more hours in order to prepare. Novotny’s friends and family have said that they take pride in how hard Novotny works on and off the floor.
“It’s amazing to see her perform on the floor,” Ferber said. “The amount of practice she does is insane, but it definitely pays off.”
When the time came, Novotny was on the road tunneling her vision towards the competition. Surrounded by gymnasts, Novotny knew what she had to do in order to make every loved one gasp in awe at her performance. Taking the floor the pounding of her heart blended it with the excitement of the crowd. Novotny gave everything to this performance.
After trying her best, Novotny did not qualify for state. Novotny said that this will not stop her and will continue with her gymnastics journey because of how much she has grown as a person.
“Gymnastics has made me more supportive, hardworking, and determined,” Novotny said.
Overall, Novotny has accomplished things that other gymnasts in this school have yet to do.
“Taylor has gone through many twists and turns,” Ferber said. “We all know that she will remain hardworking and enthusiastic toward her team and her sport.”