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Oswego East Student Athlete of the Week: Alexis Salinas

Dec 21, 2016 09:18AM ● Published by Zac Sadek

The transition from middle school to high school can be a difficult one for some students. 

Learning the ins and outs of a new building, teachers, and growing accustomed to the more rigorous demands in the classroom can be a great challenge to some, but gymnastics freshman Alexis Salinas has found a way to not only navigate through these obstacles, but thrive as well, which is why she is this week’s Oswego East Student Athlete of the Week.

Gymnastics is not a sport athletes have the luxury of “trying” to see if they like.  The demanding and grueling schedule is not for the faint of heart.  Even before high school, Alexis would put anywhere between 3 to 4 hours in the gym 5 to 6 days a week, 12 months a year, and would still manage to prioritize school work.  These sacrifices, it can be argued, are more difficult for a gymnast than other athletes, if not simply for the time commitment it takes to be successful in gymnastics. 

However, the discipline and structure of gymnastics help young athletes build a foundation of strength they can draw upon in all other aspects of her life. Alexis’ mother, Regina Salinas, has witnessed Alexis discover and refine a number of personal skills, saying, “[Alexis] learned how to accept instructions/criticisms from her coaches with respect.”  She goes on to add, “She has also learned how to deal with frustration when she is not able to execute a skill, and the perseverance to continue working on it over and over until she perfects it.”

Popularity for the sport is usually generated through the Olympics, as the women who have competed for the United States have had a historic level of success, and usually leave the nation on the edge of its seat.  As the general public becomes reaccustomed to the sport every four years, they remember just how difficult each of the four events (floor, balance beam, vault, and bars) can be, and how highly scrutinized even the smallest of details are in competition.  Alexis understands the difficulty that lies in each event, and has made individual goals this season to, “Improve on my skills, add to my routine and its difficulty, and improve overall as a gymnast.”

Being a freshman who is counted on to score points for the team in a varsity competition can be a daunting task in any sport, particularly one where judges can scrutinize each action, and competing means being exposed where the audience can successes, as well as failures.  Head coach, Sarah Dugan, expects a lot out of her athletes, and believes Alexis has fit in well this year. 

“Our whole team is young, so everyone works well together,” says Sarah.  She goes on to add, “I see how well [Alexis] works with her teammates based on the effort she puts in to improve, and makes the others push themselves to do better as well.”

As Alexis continues to improve every day in the gym, she also understands her priority is to be a student first, and has challenged herself this semester by taking Honors Geometry, Biology, Modern World History, and Pre-Ap English 2.  

Her Honors Modern World History teacher, Matt Engelhardt, understands just how hard Alexis has to work, saying, “Balancing such a load with extra-curricular activities can be difficult, and Alex has managed that balance well.”  He also understands how Alexis uses the mental strength she has gained from gymnastics, saying, “Alex is focused on getting things done and leads through example in class with character traits that value respect and hard work.”

Having just completed her first semester here at East, Alexis has no doubt learned valuable lessons about just what it takes to be successful.  With the feeling of being a junior high student still fresh in her mind, Alexis offers valuable advice to those 8th graders who will soon be in her position, saying, “work as hard as possible because you really need to work hard when you’re in high school.”  

No stranger to hard work, the East community will keep a close eye on Alexis as she continues to improve and undoubtedly emerge as a leader for not only her team, but the school as well.

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