By Anna Rose Johnson
It’s been a whirlwind season so far for 16-year-old Bailey Ferrer, from her successful comeback at the 2017 IGI Chicago Style meet to her surprise appearance at the recent J.O. National Championships.
When we last spoke with Bailey in November, she was training at Brandy Johnson’s Global Gymnastics in Florida and contemplating trying elite for the 2017 season. This spring, Bailey competed in several prestigious Level 10 competitions as she continued to progress after a long period of downtime due to injury. “To be back on the competition floor is a feeling I can’t describe,” Bailey says. “I have always loved being out there. It gives me the opportunity to show people everything I have been working on every day in the gym. There is not another feeling like it.” Due to a mishap on bars at regionals, it looked like Bailey wouldn’t be able to compete at J.O. Nationals, as she was named as the first alternate for Region 8.
But at the last minute, Bailey received an important phone call. “When the call came in that a spot opened for me to represent my region, I knew this was a chance to redeem myself,” she tells us. Since Bailey has trained at the elite level since the age of eleven, she hadn’t ever competed in a J.O. National Championship before. “I was beyond excited and knew I had a lot of work ahead me in a short time,” she remembers. “I knew I wanted to help my region out and it was important for me to keep focus, have fun, and be grateful I was given this second chance. Not only did Region 8 take second in my age group, I came in third [in the all-around], made the J.O. National team, and the Region 8 All-Star team. I can honestly say…I owe those last couple weeks to God above. I feel very blessed.”
In February 2017, Bailey made the decision drop back to Level 10 for the last two years before she leaves for LSU. She also decided to leave Brandy Johnson’s, a gym she had chosen in early 2016 because of its successful elite program. “During these last thirteen months training at Brandy’s, they got me back out on the competition floor, and what a successful season it was,” says Bailey. “I am very thankful for all they have done.”
“I learned more in those last five years of being an elite gymnast than any other time in my career since I started at such an early age.”
As Bailey looks ahead to competing NCAA in 2019, she’s found a new home at Gymnastics USA with her coaches Ray Gnat and Mikara Steinberg, which she considers to be “the best decision between now and the time I fulfill my scholarship with LSU.” Ray Gnat, an LSU alumni, coached his daughter Ashleigh during her J.O. career. Ashleigh went on to enjoy a highly successful career at LSU, graduating this spring. “My body is in great shape and I look forward to a successful future at LSU,” says Bailey. “I definitely miss the elite competition; I learned more in those last five years of being an elite gymnast than any other time in my career since I started at such an early age. I feel with my experiences, it has made me a stronger person and a better gymnast.”
Among Bailey’s goals for the next two years “are to remain healthy, happy, and continue to work my big skills,” she notes. “Also, to have another two successful J.O. seasons [and] ultimately help LSU win an NCAA National Championship.”
Bailey reflects that the last 13 years competing in gymnastics has been a rewarding experience. “I would not go back and change a thing,” she says. “There have been some real rough times. Through big or small injuries that needed time to heal or simply work through, my experiences as an elite, or switching of coaches, have all taught me so much. I feel I have matured in this sport in areas I would not have if I had not faced these challenges. My journey continues on and I look forward to what the future brings.”
Photo courtesy of Bailey Ferrer
Anna Rose Johnson writes about women’s artistic and rhythmic gymnastics. She loves Whippets, brownies, and full-twisting double layouts. Her writing portfolio can be viewed at: https://annarosejohnson.contently.com