Nicole Ahsinger Jumps Her Way to the Olympics!
Nicole Ahsinger of Scripps Ranch will compete at the 2016 Olympic Games in trampoline gymnastics! You can watch her from Rio De Janeiro later this month.
Nicole grew up in Scripps Ranch and attended her neighborhood schools: Jerabek Elementary, Marshall Middle, and Scripps Ranch High. While she was at SRHS, Nicole made the painful decision to go to a charter school to accommodate her training schedule.
As a child we put her into many different activities. She played softball and soccer. She attended the Scripps Performing Arts Center for several years, where she learned how to play the piano, sing, and perform musical theater for audiences.
She loved and had a passion for all of her activities, but the plate became too full and she had to make some choices. Little by little she began to remove all of it until the trampoline was the only one remaining. And she devoted all of her time to it.
Nicole had a dream when she was just 3 years old: she wanted to go to the Olympics. She began trampoline the month before and was hooked. Since that tender age, she never once wavered on that goal. She spent countless hours in the gym, training and honing her craft. She climbed up the competition levels of trampoline until she was 11, when she was put on the Junior National Team.
At that point she was eligible to travel and compete internationally. Although Nicole remained focused on her end goal, she saw this new facet of her life as a great way to see the world, meet new people, and see what her competition was like.
Back at the gym she learned new and more difficult tricks, worked on jumping higher to increase her flight time, and made her tricks land in the middle. The hard work paid off because in 2014 she was named the U.S. Youth Olympian and was moved to the Senior National Team.
She traveled to Nanjing, China, to compete against other 15- to 16-year-olds who were also on track to attend the 2016 Olympics. She earned a fifth place ranking and was even more determined to make the Olympics. That meant she had to leave the city and the gym she loved to move to Louisiana and train under two-time Olympian and World Champion Dmitri Poliaroush. She spent the summer and fall training six to eight hours each day.
Earlier this year she attended three Olympic Trials where she could earn points toward her dream. The first competition—in Kalamazoo, Michigan—did not go well. She failed to complete her optional routines and two other girls gained the critical Olympic points. She was now the underdog, but she likes that position.
She entered the next competition two months later, ready and more confident. She took second place, overtaking one of the girls and now ranked second in the U.S. It came down to the last completion held in Providence, Rhode Island, in June. She felt ready but knew it was going to be a daunting task to overtake the girl ranked first. Nicole settled for the idea of making the alternate position and focused on her dream of making the Olympics in 2020.
Then the unthinkable happened. The number one girl hit the trampoline wrong and flung herself off the end of the trampoline, landing on her foot and breaking a bone. She had to withdraw from the competition. While it was sad news, it opened the door for Nicole and two others to take the top spot. I texted Nicole the news and her response made me tear up. “I am going to the Olympics…I can do this,” she said, and that is exactly what she did.
At the end of the competition Nicole was named the 2016 Olympian. The USA Olympic Trampoline Team consists of only one male and one female athlete. A lifetime of hard work paid off and her dream was fulfilled by age 18. She will probably be the youngest girl to compete in Rio since the minimum age requirement for trampoline is 18. She is the underdog but, then again, she likes that position. “I am going to work hard and do my best.”
If you would like to cheer on Nicole as she jumps her way to Olympic gold, she will compete on Friday, Aug. 12, at 10 am. You can watch it on NBCOlympics.com.
Michelle Taylor, Nicole’s Mom
[Editor’s note: We asked Michelle to write about her daughter, and we thank her for sharing Nicole’s story. Our features editor, Elinor Reiss, first highlighted Nicole’s journey in the November 2014 SRCA Newsletter. To read that story, go to www.scrippsranch.org/nov14spotlight. We thank USA Gymnastics/John Cheng for the Newsletter cover photographs. Good luck, Nicole!]