Kendall George has bright future in gymnastics program


Sean Reed

Sophomore gymnast Kendall George walks the balance beam at the Huskies’ home meet Feb. 4 at the Convocation Center in DeKalb. (Sean Reed | Northern Star)

By Elisa Reamer

Kendall George, sophomore journalism major, has had a passion for gymnastics since she started competing at only eight years old. The NIU gymnastics team allowed her to accomplish her life-long goals.

George’s main goal was to be a college athlete. She has thought about wanting to be a coach after college, but her ideal career is to be a sports journalist through commentating or broadcasting.

“I wasn’t going to reach for the Olympics because they’re like for people that make it, so it wasn’t really in my mind, but I was like, I really want to be a college gymnast,” George said. “Since that was my goal, I was going to get there and put my mind to it, and I was able to get there.”

George’s parents put her in gymnastics when she was two or three years old due to how much energy she had. She started competing when she realized she was good at the sport.

George said gymnastics is the place she gets to work hard and do what she loves to do.

“It’s (gymnastics) a place where I don’t have to focus on anything else,” George said. “Like I can go and whatever else is happening in my life, I can kind of put it out of my mind like if I’m upset, mad stressed, all I have to do is focus on gymnastics because you have to be extremely focused.”

George’s two roommates said that her passion for gymnastics is evident in and outside of the gym.

“We talk about gymnastics all the time,” Morgan Hooper, senior marketing major, said. “She’s just as passionate about it at home as she is in the gym. Like, she’ll talk to me about game plans she wants to do to make herself better and asking questions to be able to better herself at home and then in the gym, she tries and applies it.”

Olivia Lynd, sophomore marketing major, said George has a strong work ethic and that she feels good about all of the work she puts in.

“She’s (George) definitely a super hard-working gymnast,” Lynd said. “I would say you can see a lot of her determination through her work ethic, at practice and stuff like that. She definitely always comes in ready to put in the work and get better and do what she needs to do for the team, and you can definitely see her confidence when she goes out to compete.”

Their practice schedules depend on the season and it can be three to five times a week.

“We practice normally four to five days a week,” George said. “In the fall or like the preseason, it’s always five days. And then during season, it’s a lot different because you don’t know when you’re traveling and stuff, so it can be like three or four days a week. It just kind of depends.”

George said the practices are very tiring and strain her body. Her schedule is also stressful because she trains so much.

“After practice, I am tired and your body hurts, but I feel like it’s all kind of worth it,” George said. “I mean, for me at least the happiness and the feelings that I get from it is worth me being tired and sore and especially it’s just really rewarding.”

We talk about gymnastics all the time. She’s just as passionate about it at home as she is in the gym. Like, she’ll talk to me about game plans she wants to do to make herself better and asking questions to be able to better herself at home and then in the gym, she tries and applies it.

— Morgan Hooper, senior gymnast

George has received lots of awards, from ribbons to medals to helping NIU place second in the Mid-American Conference Championships.

Some of her biggest accomplishments are being honored as the Level 10 State Champion in 2016 on the uneven bars, all-around champion at the Buckeye Classic in 2020, earning third place in all-around in 2019 at regionals and so many more victories, according to her profile on the NIU women gymnastics roster.

George has accomplished a lot in her decade-long career, but she has also faced injuries that have put a pause in how hard she has been able to train during practices and affected the events she was able to perform.

When she broke her finger, she was not able to do anything on bars since she couldn’t hang onto the bar and she could only do some tumbling skills on the floor. Ankle injuries make it a lot harder to keep going, so gymnasts usually just stick to strengthening activities while they are healing.

“We do like mostly technique-based stuff and conditioning strength to kind of like keep your body at some type of active level because it’s obviously very different to do gymnastics and then to not,” George said. “So mostly that kind of stuff that wouldn’t require a ton of physical activity because it’s not possible when you’re healing, but also like something to keep you in shape.”

Because of an injury George had in the fall, her strongest event is beam with a personal record of 9.750, which she received at Western Michigan University on Jan. 24, 2021, according to the NIU women gymnastics’ roster.

Lynd said George’s best skill on the beam is her series and front toss.

“The series is basically kind of tumbling down the beam, so like a back handspring, back layout down the beam essentially, so it’s kind of a combination that gives you a lot of bonus in your routine,” Lynd said. “And the front toss is basically like a front tuck, which is just a front flip, but it kind of comes off of one-foot entry and then kind of a front flip to your feet.”

Hooper and Lynd said George is a great asset to the NIU gymnastics team because of her skills and personality.

“It’s kind of cool about her that she’s always willing to be doing something,” Hooper said. “I love her personality (and) just her energy. (She’s) so much fun and she’s always got a great attitude about everything.”

Lynd said George is always laughing, has positive energy and is fun to be around.

“Kendall is a great person in and outside of the gym and you can see that every single day,” Hooper said. “She’s got a really bright future. No matter what she wants to do, she’s going to do great at it. So, the icing on the cake is, she’s great.”