Graduating gymnast continues to captivate with power, grace
February 1, 2011
By Shelby Lichliter
Issaquah High School senior Olivia Goree has been competing in gymnastics since she was 6. But it’s been in the past four years, during her time on the high school team, that she developed a true passion for the sport.
Goree, who decided to leave her competitive club team upon entering high school, said, “Coming to high school is more of a team aspect. Club is more individual.”
She said she found club to be much more stressful.
“I was kind of a perfectionist, but I think high school gymnastics has allowed me to let go of all of that stress and really enjoy the sport for what it is,” she said.
Goree has furthered her talents and gained recognition for her success. Last year, she finished seventh in all-around competition and third on the balance beam at the 4A state championships. This year, The Seattle Times mentioned her in its “Gymnastics preview: 5 Things to Watch” under the category of “Who looks strong individually in 4A.”
Her coach, Ryan Fleisher, who is now in her 11th season with the gymnastics team at Issaquah High, said Goree has grown tremendously over the last four years.
“When you see her stand up there to begin, what comes isn’t exactly what you’re going to expect. She’s a very captivating, very powerful dancer,” Fleisher said. “She performs beam like she’s on the floor, she has a really nice flow, and she just makes it look so easy and enjoyable and effortless.”
Although it may appear effortless while she’s performing, Goree and the Issaquah team work very hard, practicing every day from 2:45-5:30 p.m., except for Thursdays, when they have meets. Once the season is over, Goree continues to practice at her old club a couple of times a week to keep up her skill level.
Throughout her years of practice, meets and competitions on the high school team, Goree has become a leader to her peers.
“I think people look up to her,” her mom Jackie Goree said. “She’s always encouraging everybody. No matter if you’re a first-year gymnast or you have years of club, she cheers everybody on.”
Fleisher, who said they don’t really do the “captain thing” on the team, has found Goree to be a natural leader.
“The kids, I think, have a good respect for her because she’s such a nice, kind person, she has a calm demeanor, she’s very respectful of kids at all levels and encourages. and I think she’s just a genuinely nice person,” Fleisher said.
Goree not only encourages her teammates, she is optimistic about the future of the Issaquah team as well.
“We have a good core group of seniors this year, but there are also a couple of really good freshman that have stepped it up,” she said. “And I’m really confident in them and I think that they will improve next year, and hopefully they’ll be really strong again next year, too.”
As for her own plans for next year, Goree will pursue another passion, art. She said she has “always been into artsy things. I consider myself a creative person.”
And while she doesn’t plan to major in art specifically, she would like to do something that would allow her to be creative.
“Something related to art, like graphic design, Web design, advertising,” she said.
Goree’s mom said she is hopeful her daughter will find a great school with a program that combines her love for art and technology. But most importantly, she just wants her daughter, “to be doing something that she loves,” she said.
Her coach said she knew Goree would not pursue college gymnastics after choosing the high school route, but, “I think she’s going to be an amazingly successful person. She’s a goal setter.
“She has high expectations for herself and she achieves them and nothing gets in her way,” Fleisher added. “I hope that she carries that passion for gymnastics and that love of it and that sparkle wherever she goes.”
Shelby Lichliter is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.