Published December 11, 2013
Tumbling with the Broncos
By Mark Vest email@example.com Follow Mark on Twitter.
Macomb Township resident Kelsey Hood said she began training in gymnastics around the age of 3 1/2.
Hood, who attends Macomb Dakota, said she trains 18 1/2 hours a week during the school year and 25 hours during the summer. It is a sport that can demand a lot of time and energy for those who want to excel.
And while all the effort expended on training hasn’t always been fun, and there were times when she may have even considered quitting, Hood’s perseverance seems to have paid off, as she has been rewarded with a scholarship to Western Michigan University.
“There have been plenty of times where I told myself I couldn’t take this any longer,” she said. “But my coaches, my teammates, my family and my friends — they helped me push through it; definitely worth it. I look back, and it’s OK if I missed out on a few things here and there, (because) I get to go do college gymnastics, which is beyond awesome.”
Hood’s coach at Olympia Gymnastics Academy, Lori Koch, has seen the benefits of her student’s hard work.
“Kelsey has been a state, regional and national champion,” she said. “Such a team leader and team motivator. I think any athlete that has accomplished a full scholarship to college, whether they got natural ability or not, have to work very hard to accomplish that.”
Hood said she started thinking about a gymnastics scholarship around eighth or ninth grade. Now that she has earned one, she offered some thoughts as to the keys to turn that ambition into reality.
“Not to give up,” she said. “I had (to) keep looking for the big picture of it all and keep pushing myself through it.”
Hood, who is undecided on a major, is set to begin attending Western in the fall of 2014.
“I’m beyond excited,” she said. “It’s a relief to have somewhere to go. I’ve been working for it all those years. It’s really exciting.”
Two of Hood’s teammates at Olympia, Jessi Juncaj (Western Michigan University) and Alyssa Shermetaro (University of Washington), also received scholarships.
“It’s been quite a commitment to get to this level,” Koch said of the three gymnasts. “Obviously, they have to have great grades, also. They’re all wonderful gymnasts.”