By Casey Platenik
What would you do if you were named Athlete of the Week by News Channel 9? Jamesville-DeWitt High School senior Taylor Riley was shocked when her coach surprised her with the news. “It was a great honor,”said Riley. It should not have been a surprise for Riley because she has been a captain on the team for two years and has made it to states since sophomore year. She is a person to look up to on the team and a leader for the younger girls “She is very caring, and worries for others before herself,” said senior teammate Victoria Fazio
Riley has been on the school gymnastics team for JD/Fayetteville Manlius since she was in eighth grade. When she was 7, she took up gymnastics at Blaze Gymnastics Center. There, Riley is a level 10, which is the highest you can be. Riley started at age 7 and it seems early to start a sport, but for gymnastics that is late and starting late was a big disadvantage for Riley because most gymnasts start at 2 or 3 years old. Also, Riley is at the short height of 4 foot 9 inches,which isn’t that bad for gymnastics because height isn’t a strength or weakness like it is in other sports. Riley got the idea to start gymnastics when she went to a friend’s gymnastic-themed birthday party and thought that it was fun. Riley then convinced her parents to sign her up and she says she has continued her career because she likes it and it keeps her healthy. Although she likes gymnastics, Riley took a break in seventh grade because it was too busy and she couldn’t handle everything.
Riley separated herself from others sophomore year when she came in third place in states. “She is the hardest worker I’ve ever seen,” said sophomore Ahyi Liebier-Bendix. After that Riley showed her leadership on the team and became someone for the younger gymnasts to look up to. Riley is “great support to the team, very vocal,” said Bendix.
Winning sectionals for the 12th time in a row is Riley’s best memory of gymnastics. “The team did very well. I’m really proud of the younger girls in our group for being a big contribution to the team,” said Riley about winning sectionals again this year. Riley made states again this year, but they won’t take place in March. “I’m excited, but still get nervous,” said Riley. Riley participates in all the events for her team which consist of the vault, balance beam, uneven bars, and floor exercise, but her favorite to compete in is the balance beam. Overall, Riley just likes to enjoy the sport. Riley will try to continue her talent in Cornel next fall where she applied for early decision.She doesn't have her mind set to always win because then she wouldn’t be fully enjoying the sport, instead RIley has fun and helps “pump up the team,” said junior Cheyenne Danforth.