Winters finds niche in gymnastics

Freshman Josie Winters is introduced to the crowd as Kingwood Park's name is announced at the Kingwood Invitational earlier this year.

Sara Geiger, Editor-In-Chief

Gymnastics coach Justin James introduced each school over the speakers in Kingwood High School’s gymnasium as the women’s gymnastics teams from surrounding high schools lined up to pose for the crowd before the competition. When he called Kingwood Park High School, freshman Josie Winters proudly posed by herself.

“When I’m old and I look back and KPARK has this giant gymnastics team, I can be like ‘I started that,’” Winters said.

When I see people from other schools and I see who I’m competing against, the adrenaline gets to me and I get that rush; and I think, ‘If I can do this well, they will remember me and the people in the stands will know who I am.”

— Josie Winters, freshman

With only two members and at just three years old, the gymnastics program is still trying to establish a presence on the sports radar at Kingwood Park. Junior Ashtin Nandlal was the first student to inquire about starting a team for the school when he was a freshman, and he was the only member for two years until Winters.

“At first I didn’t like [being the only female gymnast] because I didn’t get that team high school experience; but once I opened up to the Atascocita and Kingwood High School teams, it’s so much better because I feel like I’m part of them,” Winters said.

Because the competitions are split into girls and boys, Winters and Nandlal rarely cross paths on meet days. However, the pressure of representing the school inspires Winters to make every routine memorable.

“When I see people from other schools and I see who I’m competing against, the adrenaline gets to me and I get that rush; and I think, ‘If I can do this well, they will remember me and the people in the stands will know who I am,’” Winters said.

Winters has spent nearly 10 years of daily gymnastics practices at Juergen’s Gymnastics Academy in Atascocita. She said it has played a big part in who she is today.

“[Gymnastics] has taught me so many lessons: it’s taught me how to track myself and make goals, it’s taught me to multitask with homework and practice, and it’s just taught me not to be a scaredy-cat or a snowflake,” Winters said. “It’s given me good mental strength.”

Jon Winters, Josie’s dad, has been a great source of support and encouragement for his daughter since she first began participating in the sport. He and Winters’ mom attend every competition. Jon said the excitement of watching Josie improve her skills and advance in competitions is something he will never forget.

“The memories made at each competition will always be among my most cherished,” Jon said. “[Her mom and I] are so proud of her.”