Lawrence leaps into Wildcat territory
WED| 11-30-22 | SPORTS
Rose senior gymnastics star Kaila Lawrence verbally committed to the University of Kentucky to join the Wildcat’s gymnastics team, on Oct. 20.
Starting at just four years old, Lawrence began taking gymnastics classes at Rose’s Gymnastics.
“My mom put me in gymnastics because I was jumping up and down on the couches and she was just like, ‘let me just put you in a class so you can do that on a mat,’” Lawrence said.
Lawrence is a part of Rose’s Gymnastics Level 10 team, which is their highest distinction in the gym, and trains Monday through Friday during the regular season of January through March and competes from April to May every weekend.
“It can be a lot sometimes, mentally and physically, traveling to Nashville one week and then Asheville the very next week and then Myrtle Beach,” Lawrence said. “But I make sure to take care of myself with lots of ice and a foam roller, and manage my time well and keep up with my academics.”
Lawrence balances her academics and gymnastics commitments by doing homework and studying during her travels and reminding herself to relax and not focus too much on the numbers scored before many of her competitions.
“My two coaches have made a big impact on my training, we used to not have a really good culture in the gym, but now we do,” Lawrence said. “I can go and talk to them about anything, something that isn’t even related to gymnastics, which makes the gym itself, the coaching and practicing, so much better.”
Lawrence’s coaches, Jennifer Rainsberger and Jessica Hellmann, have been huge supporters and mentors to Lawrence and her training. Lawrence is always eager to learn the newest skills from her coaches during practices.
“I love learning new skills, because it’s usually not that easy to learn a new skill because you have to put in so much, so many reps, so many different attempts until you finally learn it and get it consistent, it’s the best feeling,” Lawrence said.
Before her visit, Lawrence and her coaches, Rainsberger and Hellmann, contacted and exchanged emails with Kentucky gymnastics recruits. Lawrence shared training videos and her details over email before being invited to arrange a phone call meeting by Kentucky associate head coach, Rachel Garrison.
“One of their coaches, Rachel, set up a call with me to get to know me on a more personal level and she wanted to see me practice,” Lawrence said. “Chad, another coach, came and watched me during practice, and then later that week I talked to him over a call to get to know him as well.”
Lawrence was asked to go on an official visit to see Kentucky’s campus and gymnastics program. Lawrence instantly fell in love with Kentucky’s campus the moment she got there and when she met with all the girls on the Kentucky gymnastics team.
“When I went on the visit, all the girls were really welcoming and we went to the football game and we went on the field, we also tried on all of the leotards and we had a little photoshoot,” Lawrence said. “I met other athletes and they were all so welcoming and nice, I never met someone where I thought ‘Oh, I could never go here’.”
Lawrence's visit to Kentucky was an unforgettable experience that she will never forget. Not only was Kentucky a great match for her on the gymnastics team, but it was also a strong academic fit for her.
“I know that I am putting my academics first and it's an SEC school so as far as academics, they have anything and everything I could need for academic resources like tutoring, study halls, and academic advisors specifically for athletes including gymnasts,” Lawrence said. “So I feel like I would be taken care of and if I ever needed anything I would most definitely have it."
Right after Lawrence’s visit to Kentucky, she discussed with her family her decision and then called the assistant coach Chad Wiest and told him that she was ready to commit to the University of Kentucky.
“I felt immediately welcomed into the Wildcat family,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence’s official signing day with the University of Kentucky gymnastics was at noon on Wed. Nov. 9th.