My name is Sam Cruickshank, and I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Miss Kacee Carter on behalf of Winning Within. Kacee is a 14-year-old gymnast from Kelowna who already shows inspiring dedication to her sport. Kacee was a natural and answered the questions with precise and meaningful responses (much better responses than I would have come up with on the spot at her age). Below you will find our delightful discussion!
Q 1. How long have you been a gymnast for, and what originally drew you to the sport - why did you stick with it?
Kacee - I started when I was six, and my mom originally signed me up because I loved the monkey bars when I was younger. It stuck because my coaches are amazing, and I have made a lot of great friends.
Q 2. Why do you love gymnastics?
Kacee - Because it is an amazing environment with awesome people, and the sport in general is just very fun! Working on new skills and accomplishing new things I never thought I could do is very fun, for example I just moved up levels from 7 - 8 (Kacee was very modest about this, but then her mom explained how it is the biggest level jump and it is in fact a very big accomplishment!). I also really enjoy doing “giants” on the bars.
*Kacee then showed me a video of what giants exactly are - and while they do look fun, I highly doubt I could do them without my lunch coming up around the bar with me*
Q 3. What is life currently like for you - in relation to COVID-19, gymnastics and again just life in general - Also, how do you imagine it in the future? In relation to gymnastics - or even not.
Kacee - Right now it is kind of back to normal, other than sometimes having to wear masks. However, before I could only zoom with my gymnastics team and coaches which did help a lot, but it got a little repetitive and it was really hard to keep motivated. So, I am happy to be back in the gym. And in the future, I dream of possibly going to the Olympics and maybe do college gymnastics at UCLA.
Q 4. What sort of obstacles have you had to overcome in gymnastics?
Kacee - Well, I have had to get over an injury. I bruised a big bone in my foot which prevented me from doing any high impact activity which was really hard to do as a gymnast. I had to force myself to slow down and watch while my teammates got to jump around. At the time it was not too fun but looking back I am really glad I held off because I think it would’ve been a lot worse if I hadn’t.
*I think this is a lesson we could all learn, as athletes it can be very hard to slow down when needed*
Q 5. Ok, so now I am going to ask a few questions centered around Winning Within’s mission which has a lot to do with fostering body positivity and self-acceptance in athletes. The first one is, what does a positive body image and self-acceptance mean to you?
Kacee - To me, it means to not care what other people think and doing things for yourself.
Q 6. How do you think we could encourage a positive body image for athletes in gymnastics?
Kacee - I am honestly not too sure, I have never noticed a problem in my gym with that, we all work very hard and support each other. My coaches help to create this positive environment which is a big reason why I love gymnastics so much. I am usually pretty shy outside of the gym, but once I am with my team I am not.
Q 7. If you were to give advice on how we can help to promote body positivity in gymnastics what would you say?
Kacee - I would put more focus on properly fuelling our bodies because that is super important.
Q 8. Do you or your fellow athletes ever feel pressured to look a certain way because of your sport?
Kacee - Because of the positive environment that my coaches have created I have never really felt any pressure to look a certain way.
Q 9. Could you share with us some of your tips and tricks for self-care when you're having a bad day?
Kacee - My cat always helps when I am having a bad day, and on those days, I usually take extra time to relax. I usually read a book or watch a movie
Q 10. As a gymnast, what are your thoughts on Simone Biles withdrawing from the Olympics to focus on her mental health?
Kacee - I think it was a good decision for her because if she didn’t, she probably would have hurt herself more. I have seen how people used to push themselves too far and the consequences that come after. What she did was very brave.
Q 11. Another aspect of winning within is that we aim to empower athletes of all ages to find self-worth outside of sport. What are you proud of outside of gymnastics and how do you incorporate that into your already busy schedule?
Kacee - I am really proud of how I am doing in school. I always make sure that school comes first and that assignments get done before gymnastics.
Q 12. How do you find balancing your social life with your busy schedule?
Kacee - Well, I have gymnastics five days a week, sometimes I find it hard to balance having a social life with gymnastics, however, most of my friends are in the gym with me so I never feel like I am missing out.
Q 13. We have a book club for Winning Within, do you have a favorite book?
Kacee - It is actually the one I am reading right now, and it is called “One Of Us Is Lying”.
Q 14. Ok, final question - If you could give your younger self a piece of advice, involving sports or just life in general what would it be?
Kacee - I would probably say to just keep going and trying hard.
During my interview with Kacee the value of positive environments was reinforced. Of course, I recognized how crucial positive environments were before, but I was amazed with how because of the healthy and positive environment that Kacee, her coaches and the other girls have created, Kacee feels no pressure to be anyone else but herself in gymnastics and that is pretty awesome. The gym is her happy place and that is such a special thing. She showed a subtle and modest maturity in all of her answers, and she is truly an inspiration. She’s going to do great things (in and out of sports), and I am so glad I had the pleasure of meeting her!