Sarie Morrison by Can Türkyilmaz

Sarie Morrison scored an unprecedented six gold medals at this year’s state gymnastics meet, leading the LHHS varsity gymnastics team to victory. When we caught up with the 2010 grad (which, with her schedule, isn’t easy to do) she talked about what it takes to be a young elite athlete, her plans for the future, and the people who keep her going.

How did you get started as a gymnast?
My parents put me in classes when I was 3 years old because I was hyper, and they thought it would be a good idea. I liked it so much that a couple years later, when I was just 5 or 6, I joined a team and started taking it seriously. I started practicing more and really just fell in love with the sport. As a kid it was my favorite thing to do.

What about when you got older?

I actually quit before my sophomore year. It stopped being fun. I was training with an elite team and going to Spring Creek Academy, a school for kids who spend more than 30 hours a week practicing a sport. I got burned out. Tired. I wanted to be a normal kid.

So how did you return to the sport?

I started school at LHHS my sophomore year, and I ran into Addi [Ledford], the school gymnastics coach, who asked me if I’d like to join the team. I knew Hannah [Van Meter] from my earlier years of gymnastics, and Hannah was on the team, so I figured it might be fun. When I started practicing with them, I fell in love with it again. Then I got back into club gymnastics, too. I re-focused on my goals, such as going to college and getting a scholarship. I started sending letters out to colleges my sophomore year.

Tell me a little more about your coach, Addi.
She is amazing. She’s more than a coach; she’s like my best friend. She knows your strengths and weaknesses, and your dream is her dream. She is also a gymnast who competed at Auburn University and then at George Washington University.

What school did you choose and why?

LSU. When I started thinking about schools, my dad and brother, huge LSU fans, were going [to Louisiana] for the LSU-Alabama game, and I called to see if I could come for a visit. They were very happy to have me, and said they’d been scouting me since eighth grade. When I toured the campus, I just loved it. I committed to LSU my junior year — they offered me a full scholarship — and signed with them this year.

Have you had a chance to be a normal kid since you got back into gymnastics?

More than I used to. At Spring Creek I was in a class with four other kids. It’s not that way at LHHS! I have way more friends now. I still have to sprint from school to the gym everyday, then go home and do my homework and studying and then go to bed exhausted every weekday, but I don’t have practice on the weekends, so I actually have a social life.

What about future aspirations? Will we see you at the next Olympics?

It’s not out of the question, but the first thing I will focus on will be college.

Besides your coach, who has been your biggest inspiration?

Of course my parents. They have been with me all along the way and have encouraged me to go for my biggest dreams. Beside Addi, my club coaches have also been great. And my teammates at the gym.

How did it feel to have such great success with the high school team?

It was just the greatest experience. We knew that with me, Hannah and Kristen [DeCosta] we could do it, but the feeling … it was great. Just a great accomplishment.