By Rudi Lopez, M.A., Editor-in-Chief (firstname.lastname@example.org)
“The key to success is focus and mental preparation. Stay determined and do the very best each and every day. ” – Bailey Ferrer
The U.S. women’s gymnastics national team is coming off their romp to Rio Olympics gymnastics team gold and Simone Biles individual all-around gold medal victory. The U.S. women’s gymnastics national team has achieved a tremendous level of success under Bela & Martha Karolyi. Under the Karolyi’s system, USA gymnastics women have won the Olympic Gold three times, in 1996, 2012, and 2016. These successes led to the nicknames Magnificent Seven, Fierce Five and Final Five. They won three silvers in 1984, 2004, 2008 and won three bronzes in 1948, 1992 and 2000. It has resulted in four consecutive Olympic all-around individual gold medal champions: Carly Patterson (2004), Natsia Liukin (2008), Gabrielle Douglas (2012), and recently Simone Biles (2016).
Earlier today USA Gymnastics announced Valerie Liukin, a former Olympic gold medalist and co-founder/owner of the World Olympics Gymnastics Academy in North Texas, as the new head of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team. Liukin is also the father/coach of famed women’s gymnast and 2008 Olympic all-around gold medal champion Natsia Liukin. He succeeds Martha Karolyi, who retired after guiding the U.S. to gold in the women’s team competition at the 2016 Rio Olympics. His official title will be U.S. Women’s National Team Coordinator.
With change in the leadership of the national team coordinator, one has to wonder how it will impact the future of women’s gymnastics and the development of young female gymnasts across the country who hope to become a member of future Olympic national teams.
One young promising gymnast from Florida demonstrates that the talent pool of young female gymnasts across the country is deep and should help the US national team continue its competitiveness in international competitions, the World Championships and Olympics.
Bailey Ferrer was born in Nashville, Tennessee in 2001. At the age of 1 year old, young Bailey would sneak out of after care at the gym her mother was coaching to join in with the team girls. Some people are born with a strong desire and inner force that reveals their true calling and purpose. For Bailey, that is certainly true:
“I knew from the start I loved being out there and performing. I remember having grips at three years old and I wanted to sleep in them and my leotard.” – Baily Ferrer
Fortunately her mother Lyn Ferrer recognized her daughter’s passion, potential and provided the opportunities she needed to evolve as a gymnast. This meant eventually moving from Tennessee to North Carolina and recently to Florida where some of the best gymnastic academies are located. She has lived in Florida over four years, and recently made a switch to the Brandy Johnson Global Gymnastics Center, ending a four year relationship with her previous academy. The move provided Bailey an opportunity to continue Elite Training, and is able to train along the side of USA senior and elite gymnast Sydney Johnson-Scharpf. Bailey has received a warm welcome and embrace by all the girls at the center.
This young gymnast nicknamed “Lil Ninja” by teammates since she was 10 years old has accumulated an impressive list of accomplishments in her young career. At 10 years old, she won the Florida State Championship. She qualified for the Jr. International Elite, made the P&G Championships, and recently placed 7th out of 42 competitors at the National Elite Qualifier. The most significant compliment she has received is that she has a “quick twitch that is seldom seen within the world of gymnastics.” Recently she became the “youngest” gymnast in the history of collegiate gymnastics to verbally commit to LSU who offered her a full scholarship. Her decision to commit to LSU stemmed from the loyalty displayed by the co-head coaches at LSU since she was eight years old. LSU Tigers gymnastics co-head coach Jay Clark with DD Breaux have followed Bailey’s career since she was living in North Carolina, and visited Metro Gymnastic Center in Florida when she was 12 years old to evaluate her. The LSU Tigers women’s gymnastics team finished second at the 2016 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships earlier this year. Bailey will enter LSU as a freshman in 2019 where she will continue her gymnastics and study Medical Sales and Physical Therapy. In May of this year, the Lil Ninja trained at the prestigious Olympic Training Center in Texas.
“Mental strength is huge. I have to focus on this all the time. Gymnastics is a dangerous sport, and I have dealt with a few injuries. I know the importance of dedication and perseverance. They are important qualities, that will help me succeed.” – Bailey Ferrer
The lifestyle and commitment to gymnastics athletes must make requires plenty of sacrifices and an unwavering focus, which the Lil Ninja definitely has. A preview of her day, reveals her getting up at 7:30 a.m., icing her feet, eating a good breakfast, arriving at the gym by 9:30 a.m. for 1st half training. Then her mother picks her up between 12:30-1:00 p.m. who then drives her to Chill Cryo and/or Laser for physical therapy. Bailey eats lunch in the car while being driven to the next location. She returns to the training center for 2nd half of training by 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. Then she goes home, eats dinner which consists of salmon with broccoli and mash potatoes, and works with her home tutor who visits her daily to work on homework and subjects until 10 p.m. when she calls it a night. The schedule is repeated again the next day. This continues every day and every week for the majority of the year. The gymnastics schedule for competitions is a short one, then the athletes must continue training the rest of the year for the following year’s competition season. Extremely impressive that at her young age, she is mentally focused, driven, and passionate about her sport and trains with enthusiasm. A big part of her motivation and desire to succeed and excel is her faith.
“I feel God gave me my talent in gymnastics and the heart to get through the tough times. My passion for my sport allows me to push forward as hard as I can. With God by my side and my faith, I know I can persevere.” – Bailey Ferrer
Her faith is an extremely important aspect of her life and everything she does. She credits her faith in Jesus Christ for helping her endure difficult times in her young life, injuries and changes. Bailey also makes “prayer” a huge part of her everyday life and incorporates it daily much like her training schedule. Her favorite verse is Isaiah 41:10 which came in handy when she suffered a serious back injury:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41: 10
Bouncing back from injuries has helped Bailey prioritize and find renewed strength and balance in her life. She spends lots of time with friends and family at the beach, likes to fish, shop, and go to the movies. One of her favorite movies is The Blind Side. You can also find the Lil Ninja at sports events supporting teams, friends and rooting for the LSU Tigers!
Keep an eye out for this Lil Ninja who is just getting started and is building momentum for a great gymnastics career and one who is sure to make a tremendous contribution at LSU, in business and in her community. We can’t wait to see what she continues to do in the years to come and do additional follow up stories on her progress. The future of women’s gymnastics in this country is solid!
Bailey Ferrer, USA Gymnastics