Following her victory at the 2014 Nastia Liukin Cup, Level 10 star McKenna Kelley made the transition first to elite gymnastics and then to NCAA. She enjoyed a successful first season at LSU and is now ready for her sophomore year. We caught up with McKenna to ask about her current training, her experiences with elite, and her dreams for the future.
Inside Gymnastics: How is your training going?
McKenna Kelley: Training is going fantastic! The team is looking and feeling incredible and I know we are super excited and ready for this season. Looking at each event, our team has so much depth. The freshmen are adapting so well and are contributing in almost everything!
Inside: What are you most looking forward to this season?
McKenna: I think I’m most looking forward to just seeing what this team can do. We know what we’re capable of, and based off our training and even what we do outside of the gym just proves even more how disciplined [we are] and how much this team wants to succeed. We have a lot of potential and like I said earlier, [we have] depth, so it’ll be extremely exciting to see what we do in competition.
Inside: What were some of the highs and lows of your elite career?
McKenna: Looking back on my elite career, I’d say the high would be just being given the opportunity by my club coaches Dan and Ashly Baker to train twice a day and help make my dream come true. They made a lot of sacrifices for my dreams and I am forever grateful for that. Another high is definitely being invited to and attending national team training camps for a year, and being considered for a spot on the  Pan American Games team. The lows of my elite career consist of just the hard days and injuries, but I think that is just about every gymnast’s lows!
Inside: Could you tell about your experiences at the ranch and testing elite before you went to LSU?
McKenna: Being a Level 10 who out of the blue decides she wants to train elite at 17 years old, and then attends camps with Olympians and girls who I have looked up to my whole life, is quite the experience in itself! The ranch is where your dreams become a reality. I am so honored that I was given the chance to train and be coached among the best in the world. It’s definitely not like NCAA in any way, but it 100% helped shaped me into the person and gymnast I am today.
Inside: Do you think you might continue competing after your NCAA career is over?
McKenna: As crazy as it sounds, I can’t say that thought hasn’t crossed my mind! Though my elite career didn’t end the way I would have hoped, I know that everything happens for a reason and that I ended up where I needed to be. I know that a lot of past elites and NCAA gymnasts have gone back to compete in elite after their careers, so I can’t say that it would be a no, but right now I am focused on helping my team be the best we can be! I’d also have to see if my body is still intact! Ha!
Inside: Would you consider coaching gymnastics someday?
McKenna: I wouldn’t say no! I think it’d be cool to somehow establish a gymnastics team at a D1 school in Texas, and maybe I could be a coach! Dream big, right?!
Inside: What are your goals for your second year at LSU?
McKenna: My goals for my sophomore year are to help the team in any fashion. Whether that’s being in the lineup or taking a seat and cheering my heart out. Whatever this team needs from me! I have been training a lot of upgrades so I would love to compete those new skills. I am enthusiastic about kind of knowing what I’m doing this year and showing the ropes to our freshmen!
Inside: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
McKenna: That LSU is READY!
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