Santa Maria Sun / Athlete of the Week
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 20
BY REBECCA PATTERSON
The smell of chalk and sound of tumbling are familiar in KT’s All-Star Gymnastics Gym in Santa Maria. As one of the largest gyms in the area, KT’s caters to a diversity of students who range from toddlers to adults. KT’ is also home to one of the most competitive youth male gymnasts on the Central Coast.
Fifteen-year-old Cameron Edwards-Rea from Righetti High School represented California at the Regional Gymnastics Competition in Reno, Nevada. The regional meet included qualifying gymnasts from California, Hawaii, Arizona, and Nevada. Rea earned first place in the vault event and second place in the high bar.
“I don’t get nervous for competition anymore because I work really hard,” Edwards-Rea shared while sitting on a training trampoline in the gym. “I am always improving my form and strength.”
Edwards-Rea’s fascination with gymnastics blossomed as a toddler when he watched the 2000 Olympic games—held in Sydney, Australia—with his mom. He remembers practicing flips and trying stunts in the backyard and was ecstatic when he was able to go to his first gymnastics class.
“He was just a little guy when he first walked in here, probably 5 years old. He is honestly the reason we started the boys’ team here. As he grew and got more competitive, we had to upgrade our equipment,” said gym owner and coach Katie Eckenrode.
Since then, Edwards-Rea has won countless gold medals and learned new stunts. He’s bounced back from injuries including a sprained toe and broken hand, only to keep trying harder.
Apart from training in the gym, Edwards-Rea also volunteers at the Humane Society, coaches younger gymnasts, and gets good grades in school. After high school, he plans to attend Stanford University and join the gymnastics team.
“I’ve gone to gymnastics camps at Stanford for a couple years now. I’ve connected with a lot of coaches and competitors,” he said.
Edwards-Rea’s humble demeanor, list of accomplishments, and high hopes for the future are inspiring. It’s obvious that teammates and coaches alike love him, as demonstrated by the hugs and congratulations he received over the course of the interview.
“I am not going to give up competition anytime soon,” he said. “I feel like gymnastics can be one of the hardest sports in the world, but there is nothing to be afraid of. My mom says, ‘All of your strength comes through struggle,’ and I plan to always get stronger.”