South Riding, VA (March 18, 2017) – Please join us in congratulating Freedom’s Sydney Wrighte as the February 2017 Performance Edge/Viva Loudoun Athlete of the Month!

“It’s a great honor to be named Athlete of the Month, I know there are so many competitive athletes in this county, to be recognized is just an honor,” Wrighte said.

A junior with the Eagles, Wrighte has been dominating the gymnastics scene for the last three years. This year she swept all four individual categories–beam, floor, uneven bars and vault–and the all-around at both the conference championship and the regional championship. She then took home her second consecutive VHSL state championship title by winning the all-around at the state meet.

Wrighte won the VHSL 5A State Championship on Feb. 18 at Patriot High School. (Photo © Michael Hylton/Viva Loudoun)

At the VHSL 5A State Championship, held on Feb. 18 at Patriot High School, she took the top spot on the beam, floor and uneven bars, and finished second on vault en route to her impressive victory. Despite feeling extra nerves as the defending state champion, she was able to overcome those emotions as she felt she gave her best performance of the year on the beam and the floor.

“It was only my second time ever going to states individually, so I was still pretty intimidated,” Wrighte said. “There’s so many gymnasts that you don’t see until that meet, you don’t really know what your competition is like, you’re looking at everyone warming up and sizing up your competition, so it’s kind of scary but I’m just proud to come out number one.”

Admittedly, she believes the mental component is the most difficult part of the sport. Yet, the mental hardships only seem to make her better.

“I always put a lot of pressure on myself, I think it’s good to put pressure on yourself because that’s when you get the best out of yourself,” Wrighte said.

Thanks to her outstanding performance at states, she helped Freedom finish in second place as a team, just one year removed from their state title as a group in 2016.

“I know it wasn’t first, but being runner-up in the state is a great accomplishment,” she said.

The team championship during her sophomore season remains her favorite memory as a gymnast, as she was able to share a special moment with her teammates in what is typically a very individual sport. The Eagles have now reached states as a group in each of Wrighte’s three years with the program.

Wrighte has led her team to three straight appearances at the state championship. (Photo © Aaron Wyche/Viva Loudoun)

Wrighte has the rare opportunity to compete for her mother, Laura, who coaches the Eagles. According to the thriving gymnast, her mother has been the biggest influence in her career thus far.

“My mom is a pretty big influence, she coaches gymnastics and I feel like she helps me learn about the sport in every aspect, and I get to see it through her eyes,” she said. “When we’re in the gym practicing or at a meet, I do see her as my mom but she is my coach in that moment, I don’t even call her my mom in practice, I call her Coach Wrighte.”

Under her mom’s guidance, she was able to qualify for states due to her strong performances at the conference meet held in her home gym at Freedom and the VHSL 5A North Region meet at Park View on Feb. 8. Like the state meet, she admits to feeling extra pressure at the regional meet, but was able to rise above the jitters.

“Again, it was a little nerve-racking because we hadn’t seen many of the teams before and we started on floor which isn’t the best rotation, but I felt like as the meet went on my events got better and better,” Wrighte said.

After yet another remarkable season, Wrighte was recognized as the 2017 All-Loudoun Gymnast of the Year, an award she has now won three consecutive years.

“It’s a great honor as well, I had a lot of competition this year, and just to come out number one and be named Gymnast of the Year is a great honor, I don’t even know how words can describe it,” she said.

Wrighte is a three-time All-Loudoun Gymnast of the Year. (Photo © Michael Hylton/Viva Loudoun)

Although she qualified for states individually as a freshman in 2015, she was unable to compete due to a scheduling conflict. With states originally marked for a date in which she could attend, it was moved after a winter storm hit Northern Virginia. The new date coincided with one of her club team events and she missed out on the chance to represent Freedom.

Wrighte’s club team is Hill’s Gymnastics Training Center in Gaithersburg, Md., a program under the helm of legendary coach Kelli Hill. Hill was inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2005, and has coached multiple Olympians, including Dominique Dawes (1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympic Teams).

As a gymnast with high aspirations, she trains over 22 hours per week and has been able to travel all over the country with the sport. She has competed in California, Colorado, Florida, Las Vegas, and more, and hopes to continue with gymnastics at the collegiate level.

“I hope to keep doing it in college, that’s my main goal,” Wrighte said. “I hope to earn a scholarship, but if that doesn’t work I would be perfectly fine to walk-on to a school I love, I just hope to compete.”

Written by Josh Apple
Special to Viva Loudoun
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