GYMNASTICS: Life on the Mat

ISU gymnast Jasmine Thompson. Photo: Rashah McChesney/Iowa State Daily


ISU gymnast Jasmine Thompson. Photo: Rashah McChesney/Iowa State Daily

Leah Hansen

Jasmine Thompson had an early interest in gymnastics.

She originally used gymnastics to release energy and stress. She did the typical child lessons of dance and piano, but that wasn’t enough.

“I was all over the place and I had a lot of built up energy, and those things weren’t really taking care of it,” Thompson said. “So, when I was still in piano and dance, my mom enrolled me in gym and she took me there and I had a look around and she said, ‘Would you like to do that?’ And I said yes.”

Jasmine continued doing gymnastics in high school and knew she wanted to do it in college.

Jasmine visited the University of Illinois, North Carolina State, Ohio State and Iowa State.

“Iowa State was actually one of the schools that was way down on my list, but I got here and the team unity was amazing and the girls love each other. It seemed like the perfect fit. When I left the campus after my visit, I knew that this is where I should be,” Thompson said.

The team unity at Iowa State was obviously different from other schools for Jasmine. During her visit to Illinois, she noticed some things about the team she didn’t like.

“I could tell that the team was really cliquey — certain girls got along with certain girls and other were kind of left out,” Thompson said. “When I came [to ISU] I didn’t notice that at all, they all hung out.”

Her career at Iowa State got off to a rocky start as she was injured during her freshman year. It was a real question whether she would be able to continue doing gymnastics, but luckily for her, she was able to make a comeback.

“I got hurt about November. I was vaulting and I tore my [triangular fibrocartilage complex], basically a bunch of ligaments in my wrist,” she said. “It was a six months recovery period and I wasn’t for sure if I was actually going to be able to do gymnastics after that — but rehab went really well and I got back within the six months.”

With the good recovery, Jasmine was able to go onto compete in every event, called the all-around, and eventually become a senior co-captain.

Head coach Jay Ronayne, who came in during Thompson’s sophomore year, has had the opportunity to see Thompson’s progression first hand.

“I’ve only known her for three [years] but in those three years that I’ve known her she has grown up quite a bit in many different ways,” Ronayne said. “Her gymnastics has become more consistent, she’s grown more as a leader, and she’s matured quite a bit.”

In Jasmine’s gymnastics career she had some troubles along the way, which she and Ronayne both recognized.

“She is pretty consistent now. [She had] her small failures along the way, she had a couple meltdowns but learned a lot from it and came back even stronger,” Ronayne said.

Jasmine knows she has grown a lot over her years at Iowa State.

“Coming in as a freshman, like most freshmen, I was really inconsistent. It’s really frustrating when you see the older girls above you hitting routines all the time and doing it when the pressure’s on and I was feeling that,” Thompson said. “Freshman year I was hurt so that took me out altogether, and my sophomore year and [junior] year I got a lot better with consistency and I’m still improving on that but it’s still something I go back and forth with.”

Inconsistency for Jasmine carried over from meet to meet and event to event.

“Now if I mess up on an event, I can push it to the side and go to the next, whereas freshman year I would carry that throughout the entire meet. It would keep me down the whole entire meet,” Thompson said.

Jasmine made many great friends while on the gymnastics team. Since her first day at Iowa State, she has had a special bond with fellow senior Ceilia Maccani.

“I lived with her every year in college. She’s just one of my best friends. I rely on her for everything,” Maccani said.

When Maccani and Jasmine first met, Maccani had an interesting first impression, but that didn’t stop them from becoming the best of friends.

“I will always remember freshman year when I didn’t know [Thompson] very well. When I first got here, she always talked in a baby voice. I thought she was really weird, but she is one I can always really turn to and is one of the girls on the team I’m closest to. She’s a very good person,” Maccani said.

Jasmine also befriended fellow all-arounder Megan Barnes and they have enjoyed dancing around together the past few years.

“We’re dancing buddies. When we’re together or we’re at a meet and we hear music we always find each other and start dancing. We even tried to work out the ‘Single Ladies’ dance one night when we were having a team activity,” Barnes said.

Jasmine made friends with and impacted seniors and freshman alike.

“I know, as a freshman, she’s been a really good influence on me. She works hard in practice and has kept me confident in myself and able to keep my head up during practice,” said freshman Michelle Browning.

Jasmine looks at practice as a time to get closer as a team and to calm her nerves.

“Practice for me is a mental thing. The physical part of it is there, I can do the routines. For me to go in every day and try to be positive and try to get the team to be positive, it’s a struggle sometimes, but that’s what I look forward to the most,” Thompson said.

The team and the coaches all enjoy spending time together in the gym during practice and try to keep a good attitude and happy atmosphere.

“It’s a good time for us to hang out, that’s why we’re so close. In the gym, us and the coaches, we joke around, we have fun in there, and it’s really light hearted for the most part — but we still get the job done,” Thompson said.

Outside of gymnastics, Jasmine still loves spending time with her teammates and often gets together with the other girls in the evening.

“It’s kind of hard when we’re in season, but most days we all get together and I think that’s the main thing for us. We love to be together no matter what we’re doing,” Thompson said. “We get together and we play Catch Phrase and Scattergories and we make cookies. We’re always eating.”

Jasmine understands the importance of school but does find it difficult to balance classes and practice.

“It really is [difficult to balance school and practice] especially with my major, broadcast journalism, because I have a lot of classes that conflict with practice. Even right now, I’m in a class where I can’t practice Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I practice beforehand with the coaches by myself.”

Jasmine and the other gymnasts enjoy going to the library together and keep each other accountable with homework.

“It’s hard to find a balance having gym all day. You’re tired when you get home from practice and you have to get yourself to do homework. It’s a hard balance, but we all find it,” Thompson said.

Looking back on her career at Iowa State, Jasmine wishes she would have had time for a few other things outside of gymnastics.

“I was in a hip hop club my freshman and sophomore year and I stopped doing it because my body would hurt. I wish I would have stayed with that,” Thompson said. “I also wish I would have gotten involved in the theater program a little bit more because those are two passions of mine,” she said. “It would be amazing to add those in, but it’s hard with the time constraint with gym.”

Jasmineknew of the theater club but never had a chance to get involved until her senior year. She got the chance to audition for the One Acts and was given a part in one of the plays during her final semester.

Once Jasmine graduates, she has a few plans thanks to her experience last in Los Angeles, Calif.

“I was out in LA this past summer and I had an internship with FOX sports,” Thompson said. “My plan is to go back out to LA and have some kind of production job. I would love to work on a series or a sitcom and just go from there.”

Even with a few immediate plans thought out, Jasmine knows there are many options for her future.

“There are so many things I want to do. I want to dance, I want to act, I want to do everything,” Thompson said. “I just want to go and experience life and do the things I haven’t had the chance to do while I’ve been doing gymnastics for the last fourteen years.”

Jasmine seems to be ready to graduate and get on with her life. She loved her time with the ISU gymnastics team, but is excited to see what else life has to offer.

“She’s a fully grown adult now, ready to be launched into the real world,” Ronayne said.