Editor's Note: This is an original story published in the Sept. 13, 2017 editions of the Glendale and Peoria Independent papers about Jade Carey, who just qualified as an individual gymnast and will represent United States Olympic gymnastics team at the Tokyo Games
In a small, nondescript gym just south of the Bell Road automotive dealerships in Peoria, a dream continues to flourish.
Glendale resident and Mountain Ridge High School senior Jade Carey trains at Oasis Gymnastics where her father, Brian, is one of the coaches. In July, she was added to the United States national team following her performance at the P&G National Championships.
As one of eight national team members, she will take part in the World Team Selection Camp, Sept. 18-22, at the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center in Huntsville, Texas. The top four gymnasts in this camp will compete at the world championships Oct. 2-8 in Montreal, Canada.
“I was honored to be invited because I get to work with some of the best coaches out there and the best gymnasts. We all get to do it together,” Jade said.
While she has been in the gym since she was a toddler, her career burst into the limelight in the last year. The October 2016 Junior Olympic Nationals was the turning point in Jade’s career.
She said it also was one of her highlights, hearing the support of her peers. Jade won the vault by debuting and landing a move that now has been named after her.
“In the Junior Olympic program as a level 10 (the highest junior level) she did a vault that no one completed before in the junior program. The JO rulebook basically codifies that it be named after her,” Mr. Carey said. “Now she does the same vault but instead of a tucked position, she does it in a straight position. She upgraded it.”
In laymen’s terms, the Jade Carey vault is a front flip with 1½ turns in a tucked position, but the way she enters and lands make it unique.
From there she went to the junior Olympic training camp, where national team staff spotted her. Since then she’s taken part in a monthly, five-day training camp in Texas led by the national team coaches.
Instead of going right into the elite level competition — the level of competition viewers see in the Olympics, world championships and major senior national meets — she spent nearly nine months improving her skill set.
“We took basically a full year off from competing at meets to make the transition from level 10 to elite. That was a little frustrating for her. She loves to compete,” Mr. Carey said.
But the move paid off once Jade competed at three elite meets in the summer. She won the vault, beam and floor at the American Classic. And against better competition at the U.S. Classic, Jade won the vault and floor.
Then in late August, she won vault, and placed second on floor at P&G Nationals.
“It was really fun to start competing again. The other two meets were a little bigger than I’m used to but it was really fun and I knew all the girls that were there,” Jade said.
It is not surprising that she knew most of her peers. Jade has been in a gym almost since birth.
Both her parents coached. Mr. Carey said he has been a coach for at least 25 years.
Janine Thompson and Orley Szmuch coach Jade as well.
“We never pushed gymnastics, we just let her play. So it was like a huge playground she grew up in,” Mr. Carey said. “I didn’t coach her until she was 10. Until she got into the optional program.”
He said he coached men’s gymnastics before becoming one of Jade’s coaches. Mr. Carey sold his gym in Glendale and came to work at Oasis.
In the lower level rankings every gymnast does compulsory, or set, routines. When she reached the optional level, she could come up with and perform her own routines, as long as she included required elements.
“I really enjoyed competing because in the lower levels we had a big team. It was always fun to have the team around,” Jade said.
Vault has always been her best event, not surprising since Mr. Carey worked with her tumbling. Jade said vault has always been her best event, while uneven bars is the most difficult for her.
The family opts to keep the situation simple and get away from gymnastics whenever practice is not in session.
Jade says she enjoys four-wheeling, archery and playing volleyball in the pool.
“We always leave it at the gym. We go home and we don’t talk about gymnastics,” Mr. Carey said. “If we went home and talked about gym and technique, it would be too much for both of us.”
Jade lives with her mother Danielle Mitchell-Greenberg in Glendale and balances her schoolwork with a heavy gym schedule.
Jade said she regularly puts in five hours at the gym every Monday through Thursday and an additional four hours Saturday.
She verbally committed to Oregon State University after visiting the campus and feeling comfortable with the coaches. Sports medicine is her likely field, though she said she has not decided on her major yet.
“I know all the hard work she’s put in, so it’s nice to see it paying off for her. It’s really neat,” Mr. Carey said. “She worked really hard to upgrade skills. And she worked really hard with our other coaches on her presentation — to look like an elite gymnast. She could always flip and twist but that part was hard for her.”