When Hannah Sroka was in kindergarten, her parents often found themselves carrying conversations with her while she was upside down.
That’s because she liked to do handstands against the family’s couch and did so quite often. Her parents, Joe and Kris, got used to seeing their daughter in that position.
When Kris heard about Carousel Gymnastics in Plover, she made a phone call to learn what the program offered.
“I decided to enroll her and just see what happens,” she said. “They asked her on the team after the first session.”
Hannah started in Level 4 and liked it.
Certain skills are required for each level in gymnastics. Through the years, she continued to put countless hours of practice into the sport, developing the necessary skills to move up into the next levels.
Ten years later, Hannah is still competing.
Trophies won at past competitions are evident in the family’s home in rural Waupaca. The number of medals won at events fill her arms when she holds them.
Now at Level 8, she is preparing for her next competition – the 2014 Junior Olympics, to be held July 27-30 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa.
Hannah qualified after receiving an all around score of 33.15 at the AAU State Gymnastics Meet April 26 at Reedsburg High School.
Every gymnastics meet includes four events: bars, beam, vault and floor. Those competing must do all four events.
“There is an individual score for each event and then an all-around score,” Kris said. “The all-around is what qualifies you for nationals.”
The Junior Olympics are held every year. Last year, Hannah went to the national gymnastics competition in Orlando, Florida. She competed in other championships prior to that.
Hannah and Kris head to Plover up to three times a week.
“She rarely ever says she doesn’t want to go to gymnastics,” Kris said.
Some weeks, they are lucky if they can get there once a week. That is because the 15-year-old, who will be a sophomore this fall at Weyauwega-Fremont High School, also plays volleyball and played softball her freshman year.
After last fall’s volleyball season ended, Hannah played on a Fox Cities club volleyball team. That started last December and went through April and meant trips to Little Chute on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays and then drives to Plover on Tuesday and Friday for gymnastics.
“We spend a lot of time in the car,” Kris said.
Once the softball season started, there were times when Hannah was doing all three at one time.
In addition, she takes private volleyball lessons twice a week in Appleton.
She likes to compete and be active and said being in several sports involves different muscles, which helps in gymnastics.
Hannah’s gymnastic practices last two hours.
“She competes against girls who are in the gym anywhere between eight and twelve hours a week,” Kris said.
Hannah’s favorite event is the floor.
“I like to tumble,” she said.
From kindergarten up until this past year, Hannah was also in dance. She likes to perform and says she always does her best in that event.
“The rest of them are OK,” she said.
Hannah hopes to practice two to three days a week, leading up to the Junior Olympics competition. They said it is for fun and that she could compete again next year at the USAG competition.
Hannah is also sharing her love of the sport with others. She is teaching gymnastics to preschoolers and started doing that last summer at Carousel Gymnastics.
In addition to sports, Hannah is in FFA and band at W-F High School.
She goes deer and turkey hunting, enjoys four-wheeling and camping and is showing a calf at this year’s Waupaca County Fair.
She loves animals and wants to work in marine biology someday.