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FEATURE: Gymnast Kennedy Baker

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Competitive is an understatement when trying to describe the former USA, and current University of Florida gymnast, Kennedy Baker. The junior from Flower Mound, Texas recently finished her third season with the Florida Gators and is looking to “ball out” in her upcoming final year. I got the chance to sit down with one of gymnastics finest and talk about her love for the sport, her ability to sign language, and the aspiring actress that is Kennedy Baker.

Kid Kennedy

Growing up, Kennedy played many sports including ballet, soccer, and of course, gymnastics. The way Kennedy Baker was introduced to gymnastics was very different than most. Back when the Baker’s family lived in Tennessee in the year 2000, her mother Brenda decided to drop her off at CGC gymnastics. Kennedy’s mother was clearly onto something, as her daughter’s love for the sport continues to grow, even to this day. Kennedy’s brother, Stephen, also started doing gymnastics and it became a part of the family. When Kennedy really started getting serious about gymnastics, she decided she had to let ballet and soccer go to pursue her favorite sport even further.

Gymnastics

Kennedy Baker described what she likes most about gymnastics in a very original way. Growing up, her favorite event was bars because she really liked flipping through the air. When she eventually made her way to working with team USA and with the Florida Gators, she found that her calling was the floor event.

Team USA

Before getting to the University of Florida, Kennedy Baker spent over 4 years with team USA. When asked about her favorite moment with the national team, Baker said that the entire time she spent with the team was great. Although, there was one moment that she really enjoyed sharing with me. She mentioned a time when the coaches from team USA took the team deep into a forest for team bonding and training exercises. She didn’t get into much detail as to what they did out there, but she enjoyed every minute of it.

The Double Arabian

Kennedy Baker is incredible when it comes to performing on the floor. She is actually the only college gymnast to able to do what’s called a Double Arabian. It includes a half twist followed by two front flips while in mid-air.

Baker sees the Double Arabian as a very original piece of her performance that sets her apart from other gymnasts. She loves performing on the floor because she enjoys getting the crowd involved.

Most Memorable Moments

When I asked Kennedy about her favorite moments in her gymnastic career, I was somewhat surprised. I thought she was sure to mention at least one of her perfect 10 performances. Although, she did not. Her most memorable moments included:

  1. When she made the Olympic trials in 2016

  2. When the Florida Gators won the NCAA title as a team back in 2015 when Baker was a freshman

This was surprising to me because I always saw gymnastics as more of an individual sport, even though you work for points to win the meet as a team. This goes to show that even in a somewhat individual sport, Kennedy Baker is a true team player.

Perfection

While interviewing Kennedy, there’s no way I couldn’t ask her about her two perfect scores. She told me that she was actually disappointed that she didn’t get a perfect 10 in the 2015 season as a freshman. One of her teammates had gotten a perfect 10 that season, and that was all the motivation Baker needed. She told me about a wall that UF gymnasts get put on if they get a perfect score. After seeing her teammate get put on the wall, she told herself she’d make it next year. She scored her first perfect 10 against Alabama on January 29th in 2016.

Baker made the wall alright, twice now actually. She received another perfect score less than 12 months later against Auburn on January 27th of this year.

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