WVU-bound Highlands gymnast picks prom over national championships
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Few seniors at Highlands better understand how to thrill a crowd with smooth moves and stunning balance than gymnast Jordan Gillette.
Gillette's abilities on the beam, bars, vault and floor earned her a spot on the West Virginia gymnastics team, which she committed to in December. And more recently, her talents secured her a spot in the Junior Olympics Level 10 national championships May 10 in Jackson, Miss.
That day, Gillette will forego tucks and twists, though.
Instead, she'll showcase all her grace and coordination on a dance floor.
Torn between two last-hurrah opportunities, Gillette chose prom over a final trip to the Junior Olympic championships. That decision meant her performance in Sunday's Region 7 Championships in Allentown served as a conclusion for the high school-age portion of her career. And what a send-off it was.
Competing against gymnasts from Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia and West Virginia, she placed sixth in all-around competition, second in the floor event, third on the balance beam and fourth on the uneven bars — she had previously never finished better than fifth in any event. Her scores in all-around and floor, 37.45 and 9.7, respectively, were career-bests.
That banner day made Gillette's long-debated decision to attend prom over nationals tougher to accept.
“It was a hard decision — it was honestly harder than making my college decision,” she said. “I was heartbroken after I made my decision. I was standing up there on the podium, saying, ‘Oh my gosh, I made nationals.' But I finished my JO career on a high note.”
Gillette conferred with West Virginia's coaches, who assured her that nothing about their arrangement changed if she picked prom over nationals.
“If they said that they cared if I went to nationals, then I'd obviously go to nationals,” she said. “But they said, ‘It's your senior year. Go do stuff with your class. Go to your prom. Enjoy it.' They know I'm not changing schools. They know I'm committed to them.”
At long last, a great degree of certainty exists in Gillette's life when it comes to gymnastics. Her schedule for the next several months is set: She will continue training with Cranberry-based X-Cel Gymnastics until she leaves for West Virginia in September. Her role with the Mountaineers also is set: They want her for the all-around competition.
Many of the plans during Gillette's senior year have been anything but concrete. Most Division I-quality gymnasts commit as underclassmen, Gillette said, yet she began the 2013-14 school year with little more than a list of options. Pitt, though interested in her for several years, had no space left on its roster for her. Eastern Michigan pursued her, so she visited and quickly determined she disliked the distance and campus setting.
A visit to West Virginia's campus left Gillette with no doubt about where she wanted to go. She committed that same day.
Her commitment created another dilemma: How seriously should she take her senior gymnastics season? West Virginia wanted to see her remain dedicated to training and improvement but didn't necessarily require any exponential progress.
Gillette gave the Mountaineers a solid season anyway. She committed three to four months to a new tumbling pass in her floor routine — that pass allowed her to score the 9.7 at regionals.
As March approached and Gillette remained dateless for prom, she considering prioritizing nationals over the year-end dance. That changed once Nick Shook asked her to be his date.
“I think it was like the week before states,” said Gillette, who claimed the state title in the balance beam March 15. “(Prior to Shook), I was thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, maybe I should change my mind.' Maybe I should decide that I'm going to just work really hard and go to nationals. But then I thought about it being my senior year.
“I'm heartbroken that I can't go to nationals and do what I love. But I'm excited that I'm going to prom and will be with my senior class.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Steelers rising fast in mediocre AFC
- Steelers offense learning to slam door
- Steelers clinch trip to postseason with big victory over Chiefs
- Heyward, swarming defense get best of Chiefs in Steelers’ win
- Downie, Farnham bringing a much-needed edge to the Penguins
- Pittsburgh mayor Peduto goes ‘Undercover’ for CBS reality show
- Steelers-Bengals game to start at 8:30 p.m.
- Steelers notebook: Gay respects ‘anything’ referees call
- Project to tear down former Jeannette District Memorial Hospital on schedule, Excela says
- Search for Duquesne University graduate Kochu continues
- Groom cited at Farmington wedding reception being filmed for reality TV show