Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By Isabel Riordan
Sixteen-year-old gymnast Michaela Burton from Downers Grove South knows the sacrifices athletes have to make; this includes leaving school early every day to practice for five hours a day, six days a week.
Burton got her start in gymnastics when she was four years old.
“When I was little, my parents put me in [the gym] to run around,” Burton said. “I was too crazy for the house… They hoped I would be tired when I was done.”
With all of her practicing, Burton doesn’t often get time to spend with her family, so she appreciates every moment in which they are all together and they are very close.
She also has to work harder to get her schoolwork done in the little time she has. She often has to work into odd hours of the night to get her work done after a practice.
On the rare occasion when Burton has free time, she likes to spend it with her friends or reading. She loves fantasy books like “The Mortal Instruments “series, as well as science fiction like “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent” (She’s Dauntless, for all you other “Divergent” fans).
Although she loves gymnastics, she also has a passion for journalism and fictional writing. She is looking into journalism for a career, and she and one of her friends are beginning to be co-authors on science fiction and realistic fiction novels. She would like to someday travel across the country and visit all the states.
Despite the sacrifices she has to make for her gymnastics, it has given her many rewards; in October 2015, she will be going on a trip to the Dominican Republic as a reward for being one of the top twelve scores at a national competition.
Burton also said her gymnastics have made her mature faster.
“You have to get over your fears to be able to do all these tricks,” she said.
She has also learned valuable time-managing and leadership skills.
“I’m one of the oldest ones in my group, so I have to learn how to be a leader and make sure everyone’s on task,” she said.
Many people who know about the tough dedication it takes to be a gymnast would look at Burton and ask, “How does she do it?” What keeps her motivated to hit the gym instead of going to the mall with her friends?
“Knowing it’ll get easier after the hard days,” Burton said.