Claire Anderson, contributing writer
Achieving the level of strength, self-discipline, and dedication required to be a gymnast does not come easily. For Ellie Thomson, a senior who will graduate from Ridgeline High School this year, accomplishing this has taken years of hard work.
Ellie has been practicing gymnastics since she was 3 years old. She trains for about 20 hours each week and is recognized by her coaches and teammates as an athlete who is always going the extra mile.
“She is the most committed girl I have ever met,” her coach, Christina Mozingo, said. “Not just in gymnastics, but in everything she puts her mind to. She always arrives early, gives 110%, and is the last to leave. She asks to come in on her days off and has always gone above and beyond what was expected.”
Even during the times that Ellie has had to push through injuries, she still has a strong passion and dedication for her sport.
“I love the hard work, sweat, and tears that all lead up to the little accomplishments every day, whether it be making corrections or nailing a skill or routine,” Ellie said. “The feeling of doing something almost impossible, like flying through the air, is so cool.”
Ellie currently trains with Cache Elite Gymnastics Academy, a program started in 2015 with the goal of helping aspiring gymnasts reach the collegiate level. It is led by Christina, a former Utah State Gymnast who has been coaching club gymnastics for eight years.
Christina grew up in Cache Valley and began practicing gymnastics at age 8. She trained with a club team at Utah State University (USU) known as Tytans Gymnastics. After her time there, she competed for four years on the USU Gymnastics team.
“When I graduated from college, I got married and honestly thought I was completely done with the sport. However, I soon began coaching in the summer of 2014,” Christina said. “The group of girls that I coach are a very rare and special group. They are self motivated, driven, and love to compete. They have formed a cohesive friendship built on love and support of each other. These girls train hard in practice, which is four times a week, year-round. Their training includes gymnastics, dance, and strength training.”
Recently, Christina helped qualifying Cache Elite gymnasts prepare for a competitive regionals meet in California. In order to compete at regionals, a gymnast must receive an all-around score of 34.0 at the state level. All of the girls from Cache Elite’s team who were uninjured qualified to compete against other athletes from Utah, California, Nevada, and Arizona.
“Those four states consist of some of the best gymnasts in the country. Our girls were not intimidated at all. Other teams practice double the time we do, have top-of-the-line equipment, and have many more resources than we do, but these eight girls from Cache Valley scored just as high or even better than a lot of the others,” Christina said. “They achieved the goals they had set pre-season. Leading up to this meet, there was a lot of fine tuning and mental preparation so that they could compete at this level. Since they have been practicing their routines since November and had proven they had the skills down, the meets were 99% mental. We worked to instill as much confidence in each girl as possible.”
It was a successful meet, especially for Ellie Thomson, who was given the highest allaround score she had received in her entire career of gymnastics. She was one of two Level 10 gymnasts from Cache Elite to qualify for nationals.
“She stuck all four events and had some of her best scores at regionals on vault, bars, and beam,” Christina said.
It was also a great meet for Denzlee Knudsen and Tess Munns, two of Ellie’s teammates who received season high scores on multiple events. Denzlee qualified as an alternate to the Level 10 National Team and Tess qualified for the Level 9 Western Team in Salt Lake City.
“All three gymnasts performed beautifully with some of the best gymnastics this Valley has seen in quite some time. They are the team captains of this team and have set the tone for the rest of the girls. They have set the bar high!” Christina said.
After competing at nationals and finishing the rest of this season, Ellie plans to continue gymnastics after high school at Southern Utah University (SUU).
“I’ve always dreamed of college gymnastics and SUU has always been my top choice, so when they committed me it was like all of my hard work was paying off,” Ellie said. “I’m so excited to head down there and start this chapter of my career! Go T-Birds!”
It’s safe to say that the hard work and dedication of Ellie and her teammates from Cache Elite have indeed set the bar high not just for local gymnasts, but for gymnasts across the country.
Local gymnast Ellie Thomson has signed to be a D1 athlete at Southern Utah University this fall.