Six days of training a week, 12 competitions a year and risking career-hindering injury every day on the mat is all part of being a gymnast. And for Oak Ridge High School senior Natasha Sundby, it’s paying off in a big way.
In November Sundby, 17, signed a letter of intent to attend Arizona State University on a gymnastics scholarship, making an important stride toward a successful future both on and off the mat.
Sundby has an impressive list of accomplishments in her bio: She won the 2010 California State Floor Championship. She’s one of the only female gymnasts to complete a 2 1/2 Yurchenko (a roundoff into a back handspring) vault. She’s been a level 10-rated competitor (the highest attributed to any gymnast) since age 12.
According to her dad, Mike Sundby, Natasha showed promise as a gymnast long before entering a gymnasium.
“She was jealous of the amount of time I was spending with my son in the gym getting ready for wrestling,” he said in a Village Life interview last spring. “So she came out and asked to do pullups with us. She proceeded to rack off 25 and beat my son’s record … gymnastics, here we come!”
Natasha took to the sport naturally and found herself on the fast track to competitive success.
“She won level 5 at States and was fast tracked to go right to level 7 on back-to-back seasons,” Mike Sundby said. “Then it was level 9 for two years. She’s been a level 10 gymnast since the age of 12.”
Natasha currently trains at Technique Gymnastics in Rancho Cordova for several hours a day, six days a week under the guidance of four coaches: Rick Neuman, Mark Holtzclaw, Tara Dumas-Gilmore and head coach Lisa Porch.
All that time spent in the gym leaves little for normal teenage stuff. “I try and find time to spend with my friends,” she said. “It’s tough.”
When she does get free time, it’s usually spent doing a little shopping with friends or visiting with family, she said.
Since gymnastics is often obscured in the high school realm by popular girls team sports like basketball, volleyball and softball, it takes a little extra creativity for athletes to get noticed. Natasha’s father, Mike Sundby, posted videos of highlights from meets over the past three years on You Tube.
“It’s how all the colleges look at you now,” Mike Sundby said.
The strategy worked, getting the attention of several schools, including Arizona State, which Natasha says was her first choice after taking a trip to the school in the fall of 2009 and meeting with assistant coach and choreographer Kari Ward. Natasha was offered one of the school’s limited scholarships and verbally committed last December. She made things official in November, signing a letter of intent in a special ceremony at Oak Ridge.