State champion gymnast Sheridan Ramsey sets her sights high.
Sheridan Ramsey of Aim High Academy will compete this month for a second consecutive state title. The 13-year-old says work ethic makes a great gymnast. “Skills can come later,” she says.
Thirteen-year-old gymnast Sheridan Ramsey is anxiously anticipating the upcoming state gymnastics meet later this month.
And for good reason.
At last year’s meet in Bartlesville, she captured first place on the balance beam, second place on vault, and third place on floor exercise and uneven bars en route to a first place overall finish in the level eight division.
However, any thoughts of another state championship are likely tempered with the recollection of an upcoming anniversary.
On March 25, 2015, just two days before the state meet, an EF2 tornado descended upon west Tulsa and destroyed the practice facility where Ramsey and others from Aim High Academy were practicing. Thankfully no one was hurt as the young gymnasts took refuge in the facility’s basement.
Ramsey’s aunt introduced her to the sport about seven years ago.
“I like the four different events in gymnastics,” Ramsey says. “In basketball, if you have a bad game, you have a bad game. In gymnastics, you get a second chance. If you have a bad event, there are always three other events to do better in.”
Which one is her favorite?
“It changes over time,” she says. “My favorite right now is floor exercise. I’m more powerful than I am flexible, so I seem to do better.”
The 4-inch-wide balance beam offers some challenges, but Ramsey is confident in her approach.
“The beam is scary at times, but during the season since we’ve been practicing it so long, you have to count on your muscle memory,” she says. “If you have been practicing your skills, you can do it.”
Ramsey and her teammates certainly put in the work. They typically practice four hours a day, four days a week.
What does Ramsey think about when she is spinning, flipping and flying at full speed on the uneven bars?
“Not falling,” she giggles.
Ramsey is a high-achieving eighth-grader at Carver Middle School, where math happens to be her favorite subject.
“Math really keeps my brain thinking, and you have to do it by yourself,” she explains. “I’m taking algebra this year.”
Long-term, she would like to get a college scholarship and continue competing in gymnastics. She even has her sights sets on attending Louisiana State University or the University of Oklahoma.
“They both have great gymnastics programs,” she says.
Jennifer Patterson is the founder and executive director of Aim High Academy, a nonprofit organization that combines Christian principles with physical fitness and serves children in north Tulsa. She recognized Ramsey’s potential almost immediately.
“Real quickly, she was jumping on the beam, and her fingers were going into the ceiling tiles,” Patterson says. “She has always had a lot of power. Not only did we outgrow that space with the number of kids, but Sheridan literally outgrew that space with her power.
“She is fearless and hasn’t minded the effort and dedication required to perfect her skills. She is willing to work hard to get better.”
Aiming for a new building
Aim High Academy is fundraising to build a new practice facility to accommodate its approximately 250 students.
Aim High leased the west Tulsa facility that was destroyed by the March 2015 tornado, and the owner chose not to rebuild on the site. Since then, the gym has operated from the borrowed facilities of Glenwood Baptist Church and Elite Gymnastics in Owasso.
“We had offers from all around the area after the tornado hit,” says Aim High Executive Director Jennifer Patterson.
A GoFundMe account has been established to assist the academy in raising funds. Patterson estimates $50,000 has been raised toward approximately $5.5 million needed to build a new facility in north Tulsa and grow Aim High’s programs.
Visit www.aimhighgym.org for more information.