Freshman Erica Dunbar Discusses Gymnastics Career

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Freshman Erica Dunbar performs a floor routine. “I like the feeling of doing gymnastics. It’s really fun to get new skills and see improvements, so I keep trying to push myself to be able to do new and cool things,” said Dunbar.

Shreeya Khambekar, Staff Writer

How old were you when you started gymnastics? What got you interested in gymnastics?
“I was three when I first started. I did dance for a while…my mom started doing [gymnastic] classes with me. I kept with it up until now.“

How often do you practice, and for how long?
“I practice five days a week for four hours each day.”

Throughout your gymnastics career, have you ever wanted to give up?
“I definitely have thought about it. It was a few years ago, I was moving up [gymnastics] levels and it was really hard. Everybody else was doing all these other sports and they were like, ‘you should come do this’… [so] I wanted to do other sports instead of gymnastics. But, [gymnastics] is just something that I enjoy so much, and I put so much time into it. If I didn’t do it, I’d have nothing to do and I’d be so bored all the time.”

Have you ever been injured during gymnastics? How do you overcome that?
“Yeah, I’m actually injured right now, so I can’t do all that much. It’s kind of a crazy story, I fractured my wrist a month and a half ago. Then a week ago, I rolled my ankle. I have two injuries right now. [To overcome that,] I just have to listen to what the doctor says and what my body says. If something hurts, I have to make sure I don’t push it too far [which would] create worse problems. I just do what I can. I do [uneven] bars a lot because I’m in a boot right now, so I can’t really do floor, vault or beam.”

What is your favorite apparatus? Describe what it feels like when you are performing that routine.
“Probably floor…At the beginning, it’s kind of awkward, [when you walk] out onto the floor. But once you get into it, it’s really fun because you’re leaping and jumping and twisting…I feel like I’m flying sometimes.”

Are you doing any competitions yet? If so, how many have you won?
“This year, we’ve done a few meets just in our gym, with the people in our gym…it was basically a practice. We’re going to have an actual meet in March, and then we’re going to do State.”

How do you feel before a competition?
“It depends. If I have a good week and I feel confident with what I’m doing, I’m excited to go and compete…But, sometimes, I get really nervous and I get a little shaky, and then I feel like I look awful. [To calm myself down,] I mostly just try to think that I’m at practice. Like, it’s nothing different. Because I practice so much, thinking about that calms me down.”

Since the Summer Olympics will be occurring this year, are there any gymnasts you plan to watch?
“Simole Biles, obviously, because she’s just great. I can’t really pick a favorite…there’s just so many…but she’s really cool and inspirational. She’s extremely talented and some of the stuff she does is crazy. I could never do that…I [also] want to see how many new faces I can recognize.”

I know the Summer Olympic Trials are in Saint Louis in June. Do you plan on attending?
“I probably won’t go to the actual place, but I’ll definitely watch it on T.V. because it’s really cool that they’re here in Saint Louis… [and] I want to see the new gymnasts and see what everybody can do, because I bet they’ll be doing some pretty cool stuff so it will just be fun to watch.”

Are you going to continue competing in gymnastics after high school?
“Probably not. I’m not that good, so college gymnastics would definitely be really hard. Plus, I’ve done [gymnastics] for so long, that I feel like doing it for that [much longer] would be kind of stressful and really hard on my body…[Instead,] I want to be a physical therapist or something still related to sports and gymnastics.”