Story and Photo by Anna Long
Sophomore Jaye Mack has a unique lifestyle. While all of her friends were busy playing with dolls and barbies, Mack was putting time in the gym. From the age of 4, Mack has been training as a gymnast. She believes 11 years of gymnastics have shaped her as a person.
“When I first started I thought it was more just for fun, just something to do and a good way to make friends. But, as I got older, I realized the importance of it, and I got more competitive as I got older,” Mack said.
Each week, she spends 20-24 hours in the gym training to perfect her skills. Mack said this rigorous schedule has impacted Mack’s education because she has left school early since second grade.
“I leave school after sixth hour so I don’t have a seventh hour and so because of this I have to take summer school and do online course and stuff like that,” Mack said, “Sometimes it is a little harder if I am struggling with certain things because I get home later than other people do. I just have to realize like this is the time to do homework and this is the time to do other things.”
Mack said that she is able to keep up on her school work because of the time management skills that she has developed.
“Last year it was really hard because I was going through a rough patch with school and leaving early and missing so many days made it hard to stay on top of everything,” Mack said. “I just had to sit down and take a deep breath and realize that everything is going to be okay and so I really focused on my time management and everything worked out.”
Fortunately, Mack has a support system that she said has helped her by creating balance. Jaye’s mom, Faye Mack said, “I believe we have supported Jaye’s gymnastics career in many ways. This can be a challenging and demanding sport for both the athlete and the family. I think our emotional support has mattered most.”
“I think she has made it far in this sport because of her community of family, coaches, team members and supporters! She absolutely has an amazing support network that lifts her up, encourages her when she fails and reminds her that life is bigger that her sport,” Faye said.
In addition to her family, Mack said she believes her teammates have helped her grow as well.
“It’s really like family. We’re like brothers and sisters. We get in little arguments but I spend more time with my teammates than I do with my actual siblings so were all just so close. Most of my friends are from gym because we go through everything together. I’ve gotten really close with all of them,” Mack said.
For Mack, all of this stress, time and hard-work is paying off. This last year Mack qualified for nationals.
“First is state and to make it to state you have to get a 32 at any meet. Once you make state you must get a 34 and from there you go to regionals. At regionals you have to be in the top seven to go to nationals,” Mack said. Mack said she was excited for this opportunity. “I did pretty well in all of the events except for I fell on bars but it was one of my best meets. It was a really cool experience.”
Terin Humphrey, Mack’s coach since 2014 said she believes Mack is successful for many reasons. She said that Mack mentality is a beneficial aspect to her skills.
“Jaye’s mentality is that she loves to perform. She loves to get out and compete and show off her dynamic floor routine in most gymnastics,” Humphrey said.
Humphrey’s also spoke highly of Mack as a person. “Jaye has such a good heart. This little dynamite package is the first to pick up her teammates and give them a pep talk if they are having a rough day.”
Humphrey said Mack is a very strong gymnast, “Jaye’s strengths include her pure strength and muscle on vault and floor. She is so strong and she is able to just jump up on an apparatus anytime of the day and nail a skill,” Humphrey said. “Jaye has so much talent but what makes her stand out is her power. She is such a powerful and explosive gymnast.”
Mack plans to take her power to the collegiate level, “I plan on doing gymnastics in college. My main goal is to get an athletic scholarship to a D1 school. I would love to do it all four years,” Mack said.
Humphrey said she thinks that Mack could absolutely accomplish this goal. “I see a lot of potential in Jaye. If Jaye were to unleash all of her potential that she is capable of she would be unstoppable in all aspects of her life,” Humphrey said. “She better further her career in gymnastics. At one point she had caught the eye of a huge school such as Oklahoma whom is always in the top three for gymnastics in the nation.”
Mack’ hard work has taken her far in gymnastics. Mack is described as well-rounded by her mom and coaches. Her commitment and motivation will assist her throughout her life. Jayes mom said “We foresee a bright future for Jaye in this sport and beyond.”