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The student news site of Downers Grove South High School


The student news site of Downers Grove South High School


Claiborne raises the bar

Senior gymnast Zoe Claiborne performs her floor routine during her competition.

As the 2023-24 school year comes to an end, seniors face a number of “lasts” in observance of their long-awaited graduation. Senior Zoe Claiborne is currently in her last year of club gymnastics, but her involvement with the sport isn’t over just yet.

Claiborne began doing gymnastics when she was a toddler and now is getting ready to be a Division I gymnast. She currently is on the club team at Big Gymnastics, located in Burr Ridge, IL. Claiborne has upcoming plans that will take her to the east coast, as she’s committed to Long Island University in NY.
“I committed probably a few days before signing day, which was like the beginning of November of 2023,” Claiborne said.

Like many other student athletes, Claiborne went through a lengthy recruitment process trying to find the right fit for her next four years in school. Gymnastics is a sport that requires great physical skill, making the system of collegiate selection highly competitive.

“The process was actually terrible. It was very stressful, and I didn’t even know if I was going to do college gymnastics. It was like a lot of coaches would lead you on and make you feel like you were gonna be a part of their team and just not follow through, so it was hard to push through that,” Claiborne said.

Overcoming competition is one factor in Claiborne’s success as a gymnast, but many other challenges arise, such as injuries in the gym.The challenge of regaining the nerve to throw stunts after a fall reveals the mental skill that gymnastics require.

“I keep rolling my ankle, like the same one over and over, and I’ve done that two seasons in a row. It was kind of hard to not start competing in the beginning of the season and having to regain confidence,” Claiborne said.
When asked what has kept her going as a gymnast over the years, she paid thanks to those in her community and her individual determination.

Owner and coach at Big Gymnastics, Kara Reid, has been coaching Claiborne for over two years. Reid has seen her grow as an athlete and is excited for her next step into a collegiate program.

“One of my favorite moments was when I received the news that Zoe was going to be getting a full athletic scholarship to Long Island University. I was able to hear her complete sense of happiness and pride for all her hard work she has accomplished throughout all of these years in just a few seconds,” Reid said.

Claiborne’s favorite event to compete in is tumbling on the floor, something that she is excited to continue doing at Long Island University in the fall.

“I can do a lot of variations of different passes,” Claiborne said.

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