AT senior Cami Whitaker committed to Cornell University to become a member of the women’s gymnastics team after a lifelong dedication and many incredible successes with the sport.
The opportunity came for Whitaker after a coach at the University reached out and asked her to visit. Shortly after, Whitaker was offered a scholarship and a position on the team to compete vault and floor. She eagerly accepted.
“Everyone is super freaking excited,” said Whitaker. “I loved Cornell’s focus on academics first and the team and environment I got to watch at their practice really appealed to me,” she said.
Whitaker’s journey at Cornell will be a continuation of a lifelong career as a gymnast. She began participating in the sport at the age of four, practicing in a gym her parents owned. She began to compete at age 9, where she quickly discovered her passion for gymnastics.
“All of my siblings competed, and when I started I progressed much quicker than I expected. It was fun and I was drawn to it,” she said.
Whitaker was a part of three different gyms with varying successes at each. During her 7th grade year, during which she was a level nine, Whitaker reached her first national competition. There, she competed against around 100 other qualifying gymnasts and placed 1st in the nation on vault and 4th in the nation all around.
Now, as a level 10, Whitaker competes at the highest level of high school gymnastics. She attributed her love of the sport to her love of improvement.
“The people, the teammates, the coaches, and the environment make me love gymnastics,” she said. “There’s a certain feeling you get when you get a new skill or improve that can’t be replicated.”
Whitaker’s drive has led her to put in hours of work. With practice four hours a day, five days a week, on top of competitions, physical therapy, and more, she has been relentless in her quest to continue her career.
“Being a D1 athlete just proves to myself that my hard work can pay off,” said Whitaker. “I’m so excited for the opportunity to keep going because I’m not ready to be done yet.”
As an Ivy league student, Whitaker will also continue her incredibly successful academic career. She is a dual credit Calculus Three Honors and AP Physics C student at AT and is one of the school’s academic leaders, ranking in the top 10 in her class for grade point average.
Her calculus teacher of two years, Natalie Stach Wilen, spoke to Whitaker’s success and foreseen future success.
“Cami is already taking AP, dual credit, and other college level classes now, while still balancing gymnastics,” said stach Wilen. I have no doubt that she will succeed easily in college. It’s impressive.”
Whitaker plans to major in Mechanical Engineering and minor in Robotics at Cornell. She said that while she is there, she plans to enjoy her dual role as an athlete and student.
“I would love to compete, but the main thing for me is to make it fun,” she said. “I am excited to be more relaxed with gymnastics and worry about enjoying it more than focusing on medals.”
Whitaker is set to finalize her admission in the upcoming months.