Gymnast headed to regionals

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 22, 2010

Balance is key to a gymnast’s life.

Be it on the beam or in the classroom, keeping every task level and upright is what separates them from the rest of the pack.

Laura Phillips, a 12-year-old Vicksburg gymnast, has used her balance in her life and on the mat to earn one of six spots from the state at the Region 8 Prep-Optional Regional Championships in North Carolina starting on Saturday.

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Phillips earned the right to represent her hometown at the regional meet after winning at her level in the state meet.

“She is a hard worker and she is very dedicated,” Phillips’ coach, Mandie Stevens, said. “This isn’t a seasonal sport for her, but she practices year-round. She’s here every week. She’s one of the best I’ve ever coached.”

While most people think of balance on the beam or on the bars, Phillips has to balance her academics as a seventh grader at St. Aloyius High School and her grueling workout regime. She trains 12 hours a week, three hours at a stretch, four days a week at Gymsouth’s facility, perfecting and honing her routines until difficulty becomes mere muscle memory.

In her first hour of practice, Phillips spends it in conditioning and strength training with situps, pullups and lunges. Time management is key for the daughter of Greg and Elanor Phillips. She still hasn’t decided where she wants gymnastics to take her.

“I think it will help me a lot,” Phillips said of how her regimented routine off the mat will help her in the future. “I just want to get my skills good, do it another  year and see where it goes from there.”

Phillips took her spot on the mat on a whim three years ago and found a home as she realized that not only did she enjoy it, but that she had serious skill. Only after a few meets did she realize that she was progressing by looking at the score sheet.

“My best friend got me into it and I just wanted to try it out, but it became my No. 1 sport,” Phillips said.

Contact Steve Wilson at