Freshman Lydia Kallas has the balance for success

Aaron Kim, Review Editor

Ever since her introduction into gymnastics at the age of two, freshman Lydia Kallas has been unwilling to retire the sport that a majority choose not to pursue. The countless injuries, grueling practice hours and struggle for perfection are all factors that would deter the ordinary athlete, but for Kallas, they are all imperative to shaping the resilient work ethic that has allowed her to succeed on and off of the gym mat.

Infographic by Aaron Kim

“I get home at 9 p.m. every night after gymnastics and have to grind to get everything done. It is super tough but because of it, I’ve become a lot tougher,” Kallas said.

Kallas is now a level eight gymnast, with 10 being the highest rank. In order for a gymnast to move up in levels, their coach must deem their skills worthy of being in a more competitive pool of gymnasts. She competes every weekend in addition to practicing four out of the five weekdays without seasonal breaks, as gymnastics is a year-round sport. As a result of her dedication, Kallas has received 19 top-five finishes over her career, with five of those being first-place finishes. During the competition, gymnasts are scored out of a maximum amount of 40 points with the vault, beam, bars and floor having a maximum of 10 points. After each specific skill, scores from each category are added up and the gymnast with the most points wins. If Kallas wants to continue her success, she will have to strive for perfection in every aspect of every skill during practice.

“At practice every day, we try and perfect every aspect of a certain skill. This way whenever we go into a competition, we’ve already done the skill hundreds of times and it makes it so much easier and less nerve-racking,” Kallas said.

Photo courtesy of Lydia Kallas
Eyeing her landing area, Kallas attempts a front layout during a floor routine.

Five-year teammate Ellie Ahnemann, who attends Miller Creek Middle School, believes that Kallas’ success has been a direct result of her determination and perseverance.

“She is always so determined and willing to try new skills. Every day she ends on a clean routine or skill no matter how long it takes,” Ahnemann said.

Kallas’ coach, Mike Nichols, who has coached Kallas her entire life, also believes that it is more than just talent that has gotten her to where she is today.

“Lydia has heart. She does have talent, also, but heart is what it comes down to. Heart is the pure love of the sport, and the dedication to see it through each day, good and bad, day in and day out in the gym. Talent will get you so far, but without heart, it won’t get you all the way,” Nichols said.

As for the future, Kallas could potentially compete at the collegiate level, but she hopes to explore her other options before committing to gymnastics.

Photo courtesy of Lydia Kallas
After completing a routine, Kallas is greeted by her coach, Mike Nichols.

“Obviously if I were to be offered a scholarship somewhere for gymnastics I would consider it because I love the sport. On the other hand, it is a lot to commit to and I just don’t know this early on in my high school career,” Kallas said.

Nichols believes that Kallas has the potential to pursue a collegiate career if she continues down her current path.

“Lydia is on track to be a solid level 10 gymnast by her junior or senior year in high school. From there I hope to see her find a good home on a college team. It is such a great experience and a super fun way to top off your gymnastics career,” Nichols said.

As Kallas progresses through her career, she hopes to win as many tournaments as she can. However, it is not going to come easily as she competes against people at or above her age level. Kallas’ next gymnastics meet is the Novato Classic on March 9, where she looks to bring home her sixth overall win.