After practicing for four to five hours for five days a week and competing both locally and outside of the bay area, sophomore Elise Byun’s hard work and drive to be an outstanding gymnast paid off, as she has committed to UC Berkeley for gymnastics.
Byun has been doing gymnastics since second grade, and competes in all four events: floor exercise, balance beam, vault, and uneven bars. Her favorite event is floor.
According to Byun, getting signed by UC Berkeley for gymnastics took her by surprise, because they had been signing a lot of very talented gymnasts, and she wasn’t sure if she was quite at their level.
“I committed to UC Berkeley maybe a couple weeks ago,” Byun said. “I’ve been contacting the Berkeley coaches for about two years now, but last season I broke my ankle, and I needed surgery, so I couldn’t really compete. It’s kind of sudden because I haven’t competed in a meet of level 10 yet.”
Byun has been interested in UC Berkeley for a while now, because she feels their program employs a perfect balance of academics and gymnastics.
Because of the amount of time required to compete at such a high level in gymnastics for her club team, Byun does not compete for the school gymnastics team.
Byun’s coach at Airborne Gymnastics, Krystal van Buuren, has countless positive comments in regard to Elise’s work ethic, positive attitude, and outstanding attendance to practices and competitions.
Van Buuren was less surprised by UC Berkeley’s offer for Byun to join their gymnastics program, as she as seen Byun evolve over the past six years into a role model and a dedicated gymnast.
“For gymnastics, recruiting typically happens pretty early in high school, and I think Elise is perfect for UC Berkeley’s program,” van Buuren said. “We know the coaches at Berkeley well, and they have always known how hard Elise works and how talented she is as a gymnast. They probably wanted to snatch her as soon as possible, because she has the personality and drive of a collegiate athlete, which is exactly what college coaches look for.”
Although Byun has an extremely busy schedule with practices five days a week, she still finds time to hangout with friends and do her schoolwork. Because she doesn’t have practice on Mondays, Byun uses it as a day to catch up on homework and spend time with her peers.
“In middle school I couldn’t take my electives, because of practice starting at 2:30,” Byun said. “I didn’t really hang out with my friends during lunch, so in high school I really felt I could connect with my friends more.”
Byun states that gymnastics has taught her that hard work pays off, and is eager to continue to excel in the future in the sport of gymnastics by working towards junior olympic nationals, and overall to just keep improving.