Taylor Shanahan, senior and captain of the girls gymnastics team, is currently hoping for a successful season this winter. Known around school as a natural athlete and a born competitor, she said she has enjoyed every second of her MHS gymnastics career and will miss her teammates and coaches.
“I will miss doing the sport I love with my teammates and coaches that I am fortunate enough to call my family,” said Shanahan.
She continued to say that her teammates push her to be the best version of herself and that they are always there to pick each other up, encourage each other and work together to accomplish their goals.
She added she will miss the connection they have with each other: “Everything we do is for each other; no one is above anyone else.”
The connection the girls have with each other is something she is proud of and happy to be a part of.
“I always feel connected with my teammates. The gym is a place where I go and forget about everything that is going on in my life and just focus on doing the sport I love with the people I love,” she said. “Pushing each other to our highest potential, cheering each other on, being there in times of need and most of all celebrating victories are times that I cherish.”
She has had her own share of struggles and hardships when it has come to her four years competing for MHS.
She said, “Gymnastics is a very physically and mentally demanding sport.”
However, she works hard to remember that “[one] can’t let failure get to [one’s] heart, and [one] can’t let success get to [one’s] head.”
She acknowledged that sometimes gymnastics gets hard, but she looks to those close to her for support.
“Pushing through the hard days makes the good days that much more rewarding. Most people would consider gymnastics an individual sport; however, as a Mustang, I disagree,” she said. “Everything I do is for my team. We are one family. We push each other through the hard days and celebrate the good days together. Every role model in my life, my parents, my sisters, my friends, my teammates and my coaches, consistently remind me to never stop reaching for my dreams.”
Because Shanahan has learned a lot while on the team, she wants to make sure her younger teammates learn the same lessons as their experience begins.
“Gymnastics has taught me way more than just how to run at and flip over a stationary object, swing like a monkey on bars, tumble and dance on floor and flip across a 4-inch beam,” she said. “It has taught me discipline, respect, determination, teamwork, responsibility, dedication, leadership, time management and integrity. The lessons learned during my countless hours spent in the gym throughout my whole life will carry with me for the rest of my life.”
Shanahan is convinced she has benefited from her teammates, and her teammates have said she offers the same support.
“She is a wonderful gymnast, and that really motivates the rest of the team to become the best gymnast we possibly can,” said Audrey Kafka, a freshman and teammate of Shanahan.
Kafka isn’t the only teammate who feels Shanahan has a positive influence.
“She is always there to cheer us up and make us laugh. With it being my first year on the team, she makes it feel like we are all welcome no matter what level we are,” said Katie Miller, sophomore team member.
Shanahan plans on taking the lessons she has learned with her to college. Right now she is considering the University of Iowa, the University of Illinois or Illinois State University.
“Although I will not be continuing my gymnastics career in college, I will take all the lessons I have learned with me,” she said.
In the meantime, she remains focused on her high school gymnastics career, which involves practice every day Monday through Saturday.
“Everyone comes in each day with goals set high,” she said. “Teammates and coaches are there to push and remind each other to do everything possible to reach those goals.”