Foard’s Kaylee Dowell soaring in gymnastics
At 15 years old, Kaylee Dowell has completed the triple crown of junior gymnastics.
Dowell, a freshman at Fred T. Foard, scored 37.5 points out of a possible 40 during the Level 9 Junior Olympic Eastern National Championships earlier this month in Worcester, Mass.
The competition included four events — floor exercise, balance beam, vault and uneven bars.
She adds the J.O. Eastern National title to the two championship victories in April — a North Carolina state title in Greenville and a regional title in New Orleans.
“I am really thankful to have a lot of people help me get this far,” Dowell said.
Kaylee’s father, Nathan, said the honors are a culmination of his daughter perfecting her craft.
“She works really hard,” Nathan said. “It’s good to see her hard work pay off. That is really what this is all about. She is hard worker. It has been a lot of fun for us.”
The region title qualified her for the Region 8 Junior Olympic Eastern National team, which is a group of the best gymnasts from half of the United States.
Many of Kaylee’s classmates have been surprised by her undercover talent.
“Most of them are really proud of me,” Kaylee said. “They are shocked I actually do something like this.”
Kaylee began her gymnastics career when she was 6 years old. Nathan said her transition into the sport was easy.
“When she was little, she spent a lot of time on her hands,” Nathan said. “She’d spin around on the playground. She wanted to be able to do front rolls, cart wheels and things like that. So we got her started. It just took off from there.”
Since that time, Kaylee trains four hours a day for five to six days a week.
“I love practicing hard,” Kaylee said. “I love learning new skills and practicing with my teammates.”
Kaylee said that she enjoys one of her routines more than the others, but feels well-rounded in all of them.
“I enjoy the bars the most,” Kaylee said. “I love swinging around. It’s really fun. I think I am really consistent in all of my routines or at least I try to be.”
Next season, Kaylee moves on to Level 10. Her final level, Elite, comes after Level 10.
As for goals later on in her career, Kaylee says she would like to continue compete at the collegiate level and beyond.
“I’ve looked more towards college gymnastics and competing there,” Kaylee said. “I look at the Olympic level, but it seems far away. Right now, I’m looking forward to college.”