Freshman phenom makes quick impact on gymnastics team

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    By ALYSHA BAXLEY

    Kelly Parkinson has no fear. She is confident, motivated and loves to be busy. But to talk to her or see her on campus, you wouldn’t know it.

    Parkinson speaks quietly and seems a little shy to people who don’t know her. But on the floor, bars, beam and vault, Parkinson makes her presence known. This year, she has already proved herself one of the top gymnasts on the BYU women’s gymnastics team.

    Parkinson became interested in gymnastics when her older sisters would come home from their gymnastics practices and show her some moves. Parkinson said she would watch her sisters and try it out, and when she was in second grade she started doing gymnastics herself.

    Parkinson continued in the sport and decided when she was young that she wanted to come to BYU, although not because of its gymnastics program. By the time she was ready to commit to a school, the decision ended up being harder than it seemed when she was younger.

    “My whole life I always wanted to come here, but then in my recruiting year I had a hard time deciding between BYU and University of Utah,” Parkinson said. “But I knew at Utah gymnastics would be my whole life. It already was my whole life and I wanted a change.”

    So Parkinson chose BYU, and since she arrived has made a huge impact on women’s gymnastics.

    Before coming to BYU, Parkinson competed extensively in the United States and the world. In 1996 she took sixth in all-around competition at the U.S. Nationals, and, in 1997, took second in the all-around and first on vault, beam and bars in international competition in Guatemala. Parkinson has also competed in Australia in 1996 and Italy in 1997.

    Parkinson’s hard work around the globe has paid off. She is not as nervous in front of a big crowd as most college freshman, something she said helps her keep her concentration.

    Of her coach, Brad Cattermole, Parkinson said it has been easier to work with him then with some of her coaches in the past.

    “Brad is not that tough,” Parkinson said. “He works us, but he’s a lot easier to get along with than some of my other coaches. I’m really comfortable around him.”

    According to her mother, Cyndy Parkinson, Kelly Parkinson trained so hard in gymnastics while in high school that college gymnastics is easier than what she did before. She said she trains less at BYU and her coach is less stern.

    Cyndy Parkinson said her daughter has worked hard to get where she is. When she started gymnastics, she didn’t get scores as high as the other girls but was moved up faster because she wasn’t scared of anything. Cyndy Parkinson said Kelly’s confidence in herself and her “no fear” attitude helped to get her to national and international competition at the Junior Elite level.

    Her mother said that, although Parkinson was supported by her parents, it was not always possible for them to be at her meets. Both parents worked and many times she would have to be taken to a meet by someone else, but it never stopped her from doing her best.

    In fact, her parents’ absence helped Parkinson develop a sense of participating in gymnastics for herself. She never felt forced to do anything and was in the sport because she wanted to be and no other reason.

    “Kelly did it all because she wanted to. She was never pushed,” Cyndy Parkinson said. “When she got to ninth grade and the other girls started to drop out of gymnastics for boys and other things, Kelly never minded giving anything up for gymnastics.”

    Cyndy Parkinson said her daughter doesn’t just limit her interests to gymnastics. She said that while gymnastics is a big part of her life, Kelly also loves to rollerblade, ski and make scrapbooks.

    Her mother said she is also very organized, incredibly responsible and motivated.

    “Kelly is very active. She loves to be busy, and is very organized,” Cyndy Parkinson said. “She was concerned when she got to college that 20 hours a week training and 16 credits wouldn’t keep her busy enough.”

    Cyndy Parkinson said her daughter is humble about everything. When she won the all-around competition against Utah, she could only ask why everybody was making such a big deal about it.

    “Kelly is very humble, and won’t boast about anything at all,” Cyndy said. “She does it because she wants to, and not for anybody’s praise.”

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