Freshman gymnast adjusts to life as KSU student-athlete

Freshman gymnast Katlin Isaacs takes the mat at the womens meet again Central Michigan on Feb. 15. Photo by Brian Smith.

Freshman gymnast Katlin Isaacs takes the mat at the women’s meet again Central Michigan on Feb. 15. Photo by Brian Smith.

Lily Flynn

A Kent State freshman faces many challenges their first year of college. Living on his or her own, taking college classes, making friends and figuring out how to deal with new found independence tend to top the list.

These challenges can sometimes be more difficult for certain people, such as out-of-state students or student-athletes. Second semester freshman, Katlin Isaacs, happens to be both.

Isaacs is a North Carolina native whose family is deeply rooted in college sports. Her parents met as student-athletes at East Tennessee State University, and her sister is on the softball team at Virginia Tech. This history of athletics, along with some motivation from Kent State’s head gymnastics coach, Brice Biggin, helped Katlin decide to brave the Kent, Ohio weather and take a spot on the Kent State women’s gymnastics team.

“I was attracted to the power that she had,” Biggin said. “She seemed like a very nice kid, and [she] listened well. So we sat down after the camp and had a little talk with her and her parents. We talked about Kent State and what her plans were and that she didn’t really have a whole lot. I just felt like she was like a diamond in the rough.”

Isaacs is an exercise specialist major with a minor in athletic coaching. She hopes that the combination of these two will help her stay within the sport of gymnastics, even after she is done competing.

“I just thought that was something on the side I could do because I really enjoy gymnastics,” Isaacs said. “I don’t really want to leave the sport completely after college, so I have thought of coaching it.”

From the ages of 5-18, Isaacs competed on the Salem Club Gymnastics team. Her gym was an hour away, which left little time for anything other than school, gymnastics, and sleep.

“I would have school from 7:45 to 3 o’clock,” Isaacs said. “Then I would travel an hour to practice, and I’d have a four practice and then an hour back home. I only really had time to eat, sleep, and do my homework. So I didn’t really have room to procrastinate there. Gymnastics definitely disciplines you and teaches you a lot that takes other people awhile to learn.”

That learned discipline not only helped her in the past, it is also helping her now, as a Kent State student-athlete. During last semester’s pre-season training, she took 18 credit hours, knowing that the higher stress level would be better before the season actually began. This semester, her credit load consists of only four classes, three of which are online.

“I took on a heavy load [last semester] so I would have an easier load now,” Isaacs said. “So now I only have 14 credit hours because it’s season, and I want my body to be able to rest.”

Her continued discipline, along with her diligence towards her schoolwork, help her in both school and gymnastics, which enables her the balance she needs to continue both successfully.

“I think most gymnasts are very good students because they’ve got great time management skills,” Biggin said. “They’ve done this sport for such a long time, and they’ve had to be very efficient and very focused to be able to get their homework done, to be able to got to practice as much as they do and to travel the way they do.”

Contact Lily Flynn at [email protected].