If you have not yet seen Katelyn Ohashi’s gymnastic routine, stop everything and hit play.
The pure enthusiastic joy of her being will light up all the corners of your heart.
But this is not just a story of a gal with a positive attitude who can hurl her body through the air. This is a comeback story. A comeback from injuries, body shaming, and the oftentimes self-loathing that can be systematically woven into women’s gymnastics.
Her coach at UCLA, Valerie Kondos Field, spoke this morning on NPR relaying that Katelyn lost her love of the sport at age 11. An article in the New York Times quotes Katelyn as saying, “I was broken ... I hated myself.”
Katelyn made the brave choice to leave the Olympic track and pursue the collegiate scene. In her interview with the New York Times, she said, “My teammates and my coaches have all allowed me to step into my individuality, and not be defined by just being a gymnast.” Coach Val relayed that Katelyn had to know that she loved her as a person first, gymnast second.
Today and maybe even tomorrow, I hope to marinate in the reminder that the experience of Joy exists in the expression of our Being, not accomplishing. But we need others to help us do that. Individuality requires a team supporting our uniqueness. Self expression is a group effort. Thank you Katelyn, Coach Val, your teammates, and all of the supporters along the way that allowed the specificity of You to shine bright.