Mia Golsen started gymnastics when she was five years old, and within six months she was moved up to the preteam. Now at 13, she is home-schooled and trains 16 hours a week at Atlanta North Stars Gymnastics in Marietta. Her mom, Sarah, says, “The biggest benefit I see from gymnastics is the determination and drive it teaches Mia, as well as the ability to focus on a goal, manage her time to get her work done, and reach those goals. She is extremely driven and once she puts her mind to something, she will not give up until she has reached her goals!”
When Mia was six, she started competing as a Level 2 artistic gymnast under the USA Gymnastics Junior Optional Gymnastics program. She is now a Level 7 gymnast. During the pandemic, Mia was training at level 7/8, but after injuring her knee during a vault she needed two knee surgeries and ended up repeating level 6 during the 2021 season. She now trains two mornings a week, one evening, and on Saturday mornings. She competes on bars, beam, floor, and vault. Her favorite event, though, is beam.
“On ‘floor’ she is competing a back layout and a front handspring-front pike, and is training a half and a front layout-front tuck,” Sarah says. “On beam she competes a back walkover-back handspring, and back tuck dismount. She has mastered her back tuck and has started training her layout dismount, and back handspring-back layout step out for beam. On vault she competes a ‘Yurchenko timer’ and is working on flipping it. On bars she is working to clear a hip rotation around the bar to the goal of handstand and ‘giants.’”
To have more flexibility in gymnastics and the opportunity to train with the morning group, Mia started home schooling in 4th grade. She attends Pearson Online Academy, and is currently in 8th grade, but taking all 9th and 10th grade honors classes. Eventually, Mia hopes to get a college gymnastic scholarship.
Sarah, who works as a mental strength coach for athletes, has taught her daughter techniques to allay nervousness ahead of a meet. Mia says, “Mom coached me on this in practice, and I drink water before performing, and really have no nervous feelings because I feel prepared.”
Sarah added, “Unfortunately, she has battled injuries throughout her gymnastics career so far; however, she has never given up, nor has she let it hold her back. Even after having two knee surgeries, she was at every practice (except for the one immediately after her surgery) doing whatever conditioning she could to stay in shape to get back as quickly as she could.”
Mia attended a summer gymnastics camp, where she was paired with her “gymnastics idol” Lexi Graber, captain of the University of Alabama team. Mia said she loves gymnastics because “it’s fun and makes me feel like I am flying.” She also enjoys the high skill level the routines require. “I am able to do stuff that most people can’t,” she says.
When she’s not training, Mia enjoys crafting projects like sewing, painting, and jewelry making. She recently made a macramé plant holder and the clay tiles surrounding it. A homemade piñata was another challenging project.
The gymnastics world has been rocked by the recent high-profile abuse case surrounding U.S. gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. Mia wrote a paper about the case, in which Nassar was convicted of abusing the young gymnasts in his care. “My teacher said it was a very powerful essay,” she recalled.
- Marcia Caller Jaffe
- Mia Golsen
- Sarah Golsen
- knee surgery
- Balance Beam
- Pearson Online Academy
- Atlanta North Stars Gymnastics
- front handspring-front pike
- half and a front layout-front tuck
- back walkover-back handspring
- back tuck
- layout dismount
- back handspring-back layout step out
- ‘Yurchenko timer’
- hip rotation
- college gymnastic scholarship
- mental strength coach for athletes
- summer gymnastics camp
- Lexi Graber
- University of Alabama
- jewelry making
- macramé plant holder
- clay tiles
- homemade piñata
- U.S. gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar