A particular talent often runs in a family, which happens to be the case for 9-year-old Eliza Turman. Her mother, Kim, was an All-American gymnast at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. After just four years in the sport, the fourth grader from Fire Ridge Elementary has already achieved a Level 7, soon to be Level 8, which is an uncommon feat at her age.
Edge: What made you want to try gymnastics?
Eliza: I was taking dance classes at Premier [Gymnastics] and wanted to try it. I was always doing cartwheels at home anyway.
Kim: She decided to give it a try and then she ended up loving it.
Edge: What made you stick with it?
Eliza: It’s really fun and I get to hang out with my friends.
Edge: What events do you compete in?
Eliza: All of them—beam, floor, uneven bars, and vault. My favorite is floor because of the dancing involved. Once a week we do dance as part of practice.
Edge: When did you win your first gold medal?
Eliza: I think my second year, and I’ve won medals in all events since then. I’m way better now than when I started!
Edge: What is your favorite aspect of the sport?
Eliza: I like going to the competitions and watching the gymnasts from other gyms.
Edge: What are the different levels for gymnastics?
Kim: There are 10 levels for USA Gymnastics. She’s almost at a level 8, and there aren’t many 9-year-olds at that level. She’s also in the TOPs (Talent Opportunity Program) for ages 7-10. They teach a good basis for strength, flexibility, and fundamentals so they can progress through levels more quickly.
Eliza: Usually it’s middle schoolers at that level.
Edge: How do you handle frustration, such as when you’re learning a new skill?
Eliza: I practice the skill on the floor, or if it’s beam, I practice on a lower beam. If I fall, I get back up and keep trying. I also go over my words in my head: post, point, lift, go, push, hands, feet. I say it over and over.
Edge: How often do you practice?
Eliza: Four hours a day, five days a week.
Edge: Do you practice at home too?
Eliza: I do cartwheels at home all the time! We also have a balance beam in the living room and a bar with mats in the dining room. People probably think our house looks crazy!
Edge: What do you like to do when you’re not at the gym?
Eliza: I like to hang out with my friends and make crafts. Lately we’ve been making lots of slime!
Edge: What are your goals with gymnastics?
Eliza: My goal is to make the national team and do gymnastics in college. Right now, I’m working on a Yurchenko skill on the vault, and I’m pretty close to getting it.
Edge: What makes you most proud about Eliza?
Kim: She’s pretty incredible; strong and self-disciplined. But she also loves to laugh and have fun. It’s a neat combination.
Eliza: And I’m a hard worker in school too!