Kaitlyn Farley said she began gymnastics when she was really young.
Many of her friends were with her, but as they got older, many left the program for other activities.
Farley did not. She stuck with it.
“The further I got into it, I had to keep going,” Farley said. “I loved it so much.”
By the time she got to Pope High School, Farley traveled two hours every day to practice at her club gym in Buford, on top of her high school activities. The hard work paid off, and Farley became the first Pope gymnast to sign to compete in college, for the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
“I really like the size of it,” Farley said of the Division III school near the Mississippi River and the border between Wisconsin and Minnesota. “I like the philosophies of the coaching staff in both the gym and in life.”
Farley will also get a bonus. Her family is originally from the Chicago area, so returning to the Midwest will get her that much closer to her relatives.
The one downfall? She will be a Chicago Bears fan in an area surrounded by fans of the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings.
Farley is looking forward to returning to competition. For the last four years, she has been on the varsity team at Pope and competed in the all-around competition. She was a state qualifier in each season and a captain as a junior and a senior.
According to Pope coach Megan Taylor, this was the year Farley could have been crowned a state champion.
“She was performing and competing at her peak when the school year and our season came to a screeching halt,” Taylor said. “In my opinion, Kaitlyn could have easily placed in the GHSA state finals this year, and would have had a great chance of winning the bars, which was her best event.”
Farley said missing her final state competition was sad.
“We’ve worked our whole lives for this,” she said. “It all got taken away.”
However, despite missing her friends, coaches and everyone who seemed like family at Pope, Farley has been able to come to grips with the sudden end of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“This definitely puts things in perspective,” Farley said. “It’s going to be great once things get back to normal. It’s a true blessing to get to go to the gym.”