• Baylor freshman balances school and representing Team USA in rhythmic gymnastics

    Naomi Skotnikov as gymnast and at Baylor

    Naomi Skotnikov isn’t your average freshman. Sure, she’s pursuing a health science major, part of Baylor Interdisciplinary Core, and loves all things BU. But she’s also ranked No. 8 in the nation for rhythmic gymnastics (!!!) and is a current member of the USA National Team.

    This week, we sat down with Naomi to learn more about her sport and how she’s navigating her first year at Baylor.

    When did you start competing in gymnastics?
    When I was four, my mother signed me up for rhythmic gymnastics to help with my coordination, because I was below the 30th percentile for my age. This allowed me the time to grow into my body, improve my balance (not without significant amounts of work, of course) and develop confidence. We never imagined that it would become such a passion of mine and that I would eventually be on Team USA fifteen years later.

    Tell us a little about rhythmic gymnastics.
    Rhythmic gymnastics is a subset of gymnastics as a whole. It’s a sport that combines flexibility, strength, dance, and tricks with four different apparatuses: ribbon, hoop, ball, and clubs.

    What’s it like representing Team USA?
    It’s such a great privilege to represent Team USA! I love the process of mastering new skills and expressing myself to music, and it’s a bonus I get to share my talent all over the world.

    Your sport has brought you great success. What brought you to Baylor?
    I chose Baylor because it is a school rich in traditions and community. I felt that so strongly during my campus tours and at Line Camp. Here, I can foster my faith and enjoy a challenging academic experience.

    What are your career aspirations?
    I intend to become a sports physical therapist. In my years competing, I have worked with many physical therapists and understand their vital role in helping athletes pursue their goals. I hope to make a difference and serve others with the skills I acquire at Baylor.

    How do you balance school and sport?
    Balancing school and gymnastics has always been a challenge, but I take special care to manage my time and set priorities. To excel at gymnastics, I’ve had to make many sacrifices throughout my life, but I’m striving to have the best of both worlds now: Compete well and be a Baylor Bear. It definitely helps that I’ve felt so supported in my endeavors to find places to train and participate in campus life.

    And, we must know, when do you compete next?
    Currently, I’m training for my next competition in October, where I will represent Team USA in Amsterdam. I’m really looking forward to it!

    Sic ’em, Naomi!