Mickayla Stuckey, a level 10 from Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy is signed on to start her NCAA career at Eastern Michigan this fall. She is a 2019 J.O. national qualifier, where she tied for ninth on beam and 11th in the all around. In addition to gymnastics, Stuckey began competing in dance at just 4 years old. She has experience choreographing not only her own routines, but for some of her club teammates as well. The Eagles will be looking to Stuckey to contribute on all four events, but keep a special eye out for her on floor and beam in particular.
We had the chance to talk to her about some career highlights, what it was like being a two sport athlete and what she hopes to accomplish with the Eagles over the course of her NCAA career.
In the lead up to the 2019 season, we’re talking to future collegiate stars with our new Where Are They From series. Learn more about incoming freshmen, standout J.O. champions and current elites before they don their school colors and compete for the first time in college.
Note: Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.
College Gym News: What drew you to Eastern Michigan? Were there any other schools that you were strongly considering?
Mickayla Stuckey: Eastern Michigan was one of the first schools that really showed legitimate interest in me. I had visited several other schools but really liked Eastern Michigan’s distance from home and campus size. I wanted to go to a school that I felt that I could contribute to and Eastern Michigan fit that for me.
CGN: What are some of your long term goals for competing for the Eagles?
MS: Some of my long term goals for Eastern Michigan would be to contribute to as many team scores as I possibly can. I would love to help win a MAC championship and to qualify to regionals and possibly nationals.
CGN: Do you have any rituals or routines you go through before or while you compete?
MS: Before meets I like to listen to music that pumps me up. During the meet, I have to wear a clip underneath my bun. Before I compete beam, I take a deep breath, tell myself I can do it and do a weird brush thing on the beam with my hands.
CGN: In an interview with Region 5 Insider you mentioned you had a scary fall training a double layout on bars and had a difficult time overcoming the fear that came from the fall. You competed this skill at 2019 J.O. nationals. How did you overcome your fear of training the skill, and how does it feel to have it be part of your routine now?
MS: I have had lots of scares with bar dismounts in general. I learned that I had to trust my coaches and technique. It took a lot of time, but I made small progressions through the years to work through the fear. It felt amazing to be able to overcome the fear and to compete my double layout this past season. The highlight was definitely sticking the dismount at J.O. nationals.
CGN: What changes are you most looking forward to from competing at the club level to competing in collegiate gymnastics?
MS: I will really miss competing with my Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy family, but I’m really excited to form new bonds with my Eastern Michigan teammates and coaches. I’m excited for the collegiate energy and atmosphere.
CGN: Tell me more about your experience in dance. How does that influence your gymnastics? Do you think you will try to continue to dance during college?
MS: I started dancing at age 3 and have competitively danced since I was 4 years old. Dance has always been a great stress reliever for me. Dance has really helped me with my performance value for gymnastics, especially on floor. Unfortunately I don’t think I will be able to continue dancing in college, but it will forever be a part of my life. I will always love dance.
CGN: How does dance training differ from gymnastics? Is it difficult to train for both simultaneously? Does one help the other?
MS: For me, dance takes a lot less of my time than gymnastics. I have always done both dance and gymnastics at the same time, so I never really thought of it as difficult; it was just what I did. Fortunately for me, I pick up choreography of multiple dance styles pretty easily. Thankfully my dance teacher has always been very willing to work with and accommodate my gymnastics schedule.
CGN: Do you do your own choreography? Are you looking forward to the opportunity for more individualized choreography in NCAA?
MS: My senior season was the first time that I got to help with my own floor choreography. Amelia Hundley and I did it over the summer last year. I have been choreographing for the lower level optionals for the past couple of years at Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy. I’m super excited for my collegiate floor routine! I really hope it is something special.
CGN: Are there any current or former NCAA gymnasts that you look up to?
MS: I have always looked up to Lexie Priessman—I have since my first TOP practice with her when I was 5 years old. She has always taught me that you can overcome any fear, injury or obstacle that life throws at you. She will forever be a role model for me!
CGN: What accomplishments in your career are you most proud of?
MS: I am most proud of being a Division I scholarship athlete. This is a goal that I have been working toward literally my entire life. It feels great to be able to say that I accomplished that goal. Throughout my J.O. career, I am very proud to say that I qualified to three J.O. national championships and made the Region 5 All-Star team once where I got the opportunity to train in and visit Costa Rica.
Article by Kalley Leer, photo courtesy of Mickayla Stuckey
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