Junior Olympic trampoline champion Nicole Ahsinger says “This is probably the best time of my entire life!” Not surprising since she’s well on the way to achieving her life’s dream. Now 16 years old, she has lived in Scripps Ranch since she was 1. When she was 3, her father took her to a gymnastics school thinking she’d like it. He had no idea what was to come! She knew right way that this was for her.

As the years went by she became really good at it. She came in first at the Junior Olympics Trampoline competition, and fifth at the world contest in China! “It’s good because I’m not really good at any other sport,” she says.

She doesn’t have to be! In 2013 she came in second in the U.S. Elite Championships in Long Beach. In Frisco, Texas, she came in second in the U. S. Elite Challenge. That same year she came in third in the Stars and Stripes Cup in Daytona Beach, FL. In 2014 she came in first in the U.S. Elite Challenge in Spokane. Also this year, she placed fifth in the USA Gymnastics Championships in Louisville, Ky.

She also has distinguished herself on the international scene. In 2013 at the World Age Group Competition in Bulgaria, and in 2014 she came in first in the Junior Pan American Championships in Daytona Beach. At the Youth Olympics games in Nanjing, China, she came in fifth.

Nicole’s sport has taken her on quite a journey since that introduction when she was 3. The trampoline has taken her to 32 states and six countries. The demands of her schedule don’t allow much time for sightseeing, but she enjoyed two vacations with her parents in England and France after events there. November will take her to Rome, and after that, to Russia again. She loves the traveling and especially the friends she makes all over the world.

She has regrets that she had to leave her Scripps Ranch school and miss fun things like Homecoming and dances, and doesn’t like that she can’t spend more time with her friends here. Practice sessions take up three hours every day, double that on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

She attends a charter school now to accommodate her schedule and attends six or seven training camps a year. At camp the daily regimen starts with two runs around the buildings at 7:30 am. Breakfast follows, with more rigorous exercise. “It’s really difficult in the rain,” she says, but the routine is the same. Healthy eating is encouraged, and Nicole has attended classes that stress that and demonstrate how to accomplish it.

After three years in Junior Olympics and one in Senior Olympics, Nicole now looks forward to the Olympics. She won’t be 18 in 2016, the age required for participation. However, she’s confident she’ll be in the 2020 Olympics. The sport of trampolining made its Olympic debut at the 2000 Sydney games.

It’s as exciting for Nicole as it is for those watching. She’s thrilled marching in the parades before competitions and awed by the reception she gets everywhere. People run up to her and ask to take her picture—“You’re so pretty,” some say. “Can I have your autograph?” She never thought people would want to take her picture and get her autograph! Americans thank her for representing our country.

“I love it so much!” she says of her trampoline experiences.

Elinor Reiss