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THE GRIND: West Forsyth gymnast Sienna Schreiber almost quit sport she now has SEC future in
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Suffering gymnast wrist in middle school made West Forsyths Sienna Schreiber question whether to continue the sport. - photo by Micah Green

THE GRIND: West Forsyth Gymnast Sienna Schreiber

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Despite elegant maturity, West Forsyth’s Sienna Schreiber insists that she not only used to be a hyper kid, but that she still is full of energy.

Her energy as a kid led her mother to place her in gymnastics at 7 years old.

“That was her solution,” Schreiber said.

Now, the gym is where Schreiber finds her calm. What used to be a trivial outlet has turned into an obsession, a lifestyle, and a pathway to a career to the mats.

She’s just a sophomore, but Schreiber burst onto the scene last year at the state championships when she finished fourth all-around in the competition at The Wesminster School with a score of 37.25. She met that score without stellar performances on floor or bars, but made up ground with a 9.8 in vault and a 9.65 on beam—both good enough for first place in the field.

“I definitely wasn’t expecting that,” Schreiber said. “It was just my first varsity competition so I just wanted to get through my routines and get a feel for everything.”

Humble, she is. The truth is, Schreiber had already been in contact with collegiate coaches in the same month that she snuck onto the varsity scene in the state of Georgia. While training with Northwind Gymnastics in Alpharetta under coach Elena Piskun she made trips to regional and national events and caught the eye of college coaches at a young age.

It was last April when she realized as well that even though she was a freshman in high school she would have the ability to decide her future. She began researching schools and honed in on Missouri—now with a top-10 program—because of its prestige as an SEC institution and its academic programs.

“I talked with other schools, but I knew Missouri was my main pick for a while,” she said.

Those other schools: Michigan, Utah, Illinois. Then she stopped naming from the list.

“There were more. Missouri though,” she kept repeating.

Schreiber went for an unofficial visit to the Columbia, Missouri campus in April. There she was offered by the program. She returned to camp to finally have a face to face conversation with the coaches, who she previously had to communicate with over the phone due to NCAA recruiting rules.

It was an easy decision for the youngster with big-time ambition. She’s already brainstorming her future as an engineer. She daydreams about joining the diving team at West, “just because it looks fun,” she said. “It combines all of the skills, and it’s less of an impact.”

In real time, she spends five days a week training four hours a day, preparing for seven competitions throughout the year—and that’s in club meets alone. She’s already classified as a level-10 gymnast, just five years after starting at level-7 as an elementary school kid. But with all of the success came stress, and an injury in middle school nearly derailed Schreiber’s career.

She started noticing pain in her wrists, especially after competing in bars events. A diagnosis came soon after—she had gymnast wrist on both arms, a condition that stunts the growth in the plates of the wrist due to constant pressure and impacts from swinging from bar to bar.

“It hurt really bad,” Schreiber said. “I wanted to stop because of that, but during my time off I realized how much I missed everything. I think it was good for me to experience that and come to the conclusion that it’s something that matters. It’s something I wanted to stick to.”

Just months later she was committing to college.

Now the challenge is maintaining skills and improving after becoming a level-10 competitor. Schreiber says there’s always room for her individual improvement. After excelling in two events at state last season she hopes she can do better all-around this year. That could mean a podium finish in all-around.

“My favorite events are definitely beam and vault. Beam is probably my favorite,” Schreiber said. “Right now, it’s all about working on skills in all four and becoming a more well-rounded gymnast.”