By: Meg Oldham
Not many people are aware that Newnan High even has a gymnastics team. NHS senior Hailey Norton, however, has spent the last four years successfully representing the Cougars as a Newnan Gym Cat. Her hard work and dedication exemplify her contributions to NHS as a gymnast.
Hailey began her career as a gymnast in her sixth grade year when she was twelve years old. She started off in a class at The Newnan School of Gymnastics.
“I guess I was alright because they asked me to try out for a team,” she joked.
Hailey has now been competing for The Newnan School of Gymnastics for five years, even reaching the diamond level of competition this last year, and she recently finished her fourth season on NHS’s team.
Gymnastics is a fast-paced sport, and Hailey commented that her favorite thing about it is the adrenaline rush it gives her.
“I’m the type of gymnast who will try any new skill,” she said, “because I love the adrenaline it gives me when I try something new or crazy.”
In her 2015-2016 season, Hailey was the only person on the Cougar gymnastics team. Regardless of the fact that this made her unable to qualify for an official rank, Hailey competed to keep the sport that she loves alive at Newnan High.
“My freshman year, we had the biggest team of my four years, and we did really well,” Hailey said. “Being by myself on the team wasn’t that bad this year since it’s an individual sport. You just miss having teammates there to support you.”
Hailey participates in all four events, floor, vault, beam and uneven bars, at every competition, but her best and favorite event is vault.
“I also like beam though, because there’s so much you can do on it,” Hailey said. The balance beam is four feet tall and four inches wide, and this is where Hailey gets to show off her favorite and most complex skill mastered, a gainer dismount.
Hailey said the thing she’s most proud of as a gymnast happened when she began coaching 9-11 year-old kids at the Newnan School of Gymnastics two years ago. She loves watching their growth as they improve and learn new skills, and she hopes to continue sharing her love of the sport with children and coaching younger gymnasts in the future.
When she’s not perfecting her skills in the gym, Hailey is an active member of her senior class at NHS. She attends school sporting events and loves to cheer on her fellow Cougar athletes.