Then and now: Local athletes use background in gymnastics to catapult into other sports
April 24, 2013
When local gymnast and Nevada Union senior Katherine Magill concluded her junior gymnastics career two weeks ago at the state competition, she was left wondering, what's next?
It didn't take long for someone to tab the talented gymnast and her unique skill set for a new sport.
While visiting her brother in San Diego, the track and field coach at San Diego State contacted her to see if she would be interested in joining the team as a pole vaulter.
"I told him I had never done pole vault in my entire life," Magill said. "He was like, 'You're a level 10 gymnast, and we see you have a good work ethic and good grades. We would like you to be part of our team, and it just went from there, and I declared to San Diego State University a week ago"
Magill has already began her new athletic journey and is clearing six feet on three steps, she said.
"I was anxious and nervous because I didn't know how pole vaulting would stand up against what I had learned in gymnastics," Magill said. "But it totally did — it's a lot of the same things you do in gym: power, you have to go aggressive, lots of strength. I enjoy it but I've only done it twice."
Magill said she plans to study psychology at San Diego State.
Magill is not the only local athlete who got her start in gymnastics and later parlayed her talents into other sports and educational opportunities.
Rachel Hadley, Demi Seghezzi and Alayna Grapel were all teammates of Magill growing up, and all have translated what they learned in gymnastics into athletic opportunities in college.
Hadley, who was a gymnast from the age of 5 until seventh grade, was a standout hitter for the Nevada Union volleyball team this season and will be taking her talents to California State University, San Marcos, next season.
"I think gymnastics is a good thing for every kid to do," Hadley said. "You learn a lot of skills you can use in any sport like hand-eye coordination and learning how to fall, which is good, especially in volleyball."
Hadley said she will study biology at CSU San Marcos and one day hopes to be a marine biologist.
Grapel, a gymnast from the age of 4, used what she learned in gymnastics to help her in her love of dance.
"When I stopped gymnastics, I started to really focus on dance," Grapel said. "My goal was to make it into the advanced dance program at Nevada Union as a freshman, and I did and have been in the advanced dance class all four years. I think there's a sort of grace in both sports that's very unique."
Grapel, now a senior at NU, will attend California State University, Long Beach, in the fall and study dance as well as speech and linguistics, she said.
Seghezzi, also a gymnast since the age of 4, made the switch from gymnastics to diving in the seventh grade.
"Diving is the most like gymnastics," Seghezzi said. "I just wanted to try it, and then I loved it. I couldn't imagine going into diving without a gymnastics background because the learning process would be a lot slower. And gymnastics has taught me commitment, dedication and discipline."
Seghezzi received a partial scholarship to dive at Concordia University, where her older brother, Roman Seghezzi, currently plays for the volleyball team. Seghezzi said she will study nursing in college.
And while these childhood friends will be going their separate ways, they all maintain that their friendship and bond is too strong to dissipate.
"Our lives have changed so much," Grapel said. "But one thing has always remained the same — our closeness has never wavered."
And in June when the four girls walk together at graduation, they all agreed there will be tears, but that won't be the end of their friendship.
"We've always been by each other's side," Magill said. "When you grow up with such amazing people, you stick together through pretty much anything. It's nice knowing you will always have someone there. Even though we are all moving our seperate ways, we're still going to be by each other's side."
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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