By Samantha Greben
In this year’s fashion show, on Jan. 9, 2016, you may have seen senior Annie Transport take an unconventional trip down the catwalk, tumbling across the stage as an acrobat in the circus-themed performance. For the gymnastics team captain, doing cartwheels and back flips is not uncommon. In fact, Transport can’t remember a time in her life when her days were not spent twisting through the air or balancing on her hands.
At the young age of two, Transport’s mother enrolled her in a class at Bounce Gymnastics in Great Neck, where the program’s instructors immediately recognized her potential as a gymnast. By the age of eight, she was recruited to join Bounce’s club team, which competes in the Long Island Independent Gymnastics League. But by the time she reached middle school, Transport was told by her doctor that she had depleted the cartilage in her knee and may never be able to compete again. Still competing now six years later, she has risked getting hurt and even potentially having surgery in order to pursue her passion. “It’s too rewarding and too big a part of my life for me to give up without a fight,” she said.
With a similar drive, Transport spends three hours every day after school and two hours on Saturdays perfecting each skill. “When you finally stick that skill or get it perfectly in a meet, you have no one to thank but yourself,” she said. Her dedication and grit have paid off. Throughout all four years of her high school career, she has made state qualifiers for floor routine. She recently placed tenth out of forty girls with a 9.0, the highest score she has earned to date.
Transport said she owes her success just as much to her coaches and teammates as to her own hard work. As captain of the gymnastics team, Transport feels that it is most important for her and her teammates to keep pushing and motivating each other. Her coaches, Donagh O’Grady and Jessica Baker, stress this point as well, and she credits them with having made her into the gymnast she is today. “They always know how to calm me down, what pointers to give, when to leave me alone, and when to push me past what I think are my limits.” Days before her senior meet, Transport felt particularly unfocused and anxious, distracted by outside pressures. “I was crying and nervous, and they basically told me to stop because it wouldn’t change anything,” she said. “While it was harsh at the time, it did calm me down, and the meet was one of my best. I got my highest beam score ever and one of my top floor scores.” Even though there are tough days for Transport when she can’t handle the mental pressure or take the feedback, she realizes that those times have made her into a tough competitor. “Those are the days I fight the hardest to prove myself,” she said.
This year has been especially challenging for Transport and the Lady Rebel gymnasts, as it is their first time competing in Conference One, the hardest conference. While Transport and her teammates are virtually competing against each other, Transport noted that striving for their personal best also serves the team well. Regardless of their performance against such strong competition, Transport is proud that they have been able to maintain good spirits at the meets. “We always look like we’re the team having the most fun, so we may not be winning in scores, but that’s how we win compared to the other teams.”
While leading the school team, Transport hopes to improve every day as an individual gymnast. Her personal goal this season is to get to state qualifiers for the balance beam. After the season ends and Transport’s senior year comes to a close, she will be attending The University of Maryland in the fall. While Transport doesn’t plan to pursue gymnastics as her career, she hopes to be on a club team to stay in shape and continue practicing the sport she loves. She knows the skills she has learned in the gym surpass perfecting handsprings and aerials; they are the assets that will help define her future. “Gymnastics taught me strength—you can’t do anything if you don’t try. It taught me to strive for perfection—even though you can almost never reach it, it must be your impossible goal. ”