Skyla Schulte was in sixth grade when she decided she wanted to attend Michigan State.
“I knew when I was little that I never really wanted to do elite just because I knew that I wanted to go to Michigan State,” she said. “It’s funny because I told [Marco Bravo, head coach at Phenom Gymnastics] at a really young age. He told [Michigan State associate head coach] Nicole Curler [Jones] and she was like, ‘Marco! She’s a level eight right now! Let us know when she is a level 10!’ So my main goal was ‘I want to be a college gymnast. and I want to go to Michigan State and pursue my dream.’”
That dream was solidified when Michigan State made an offer to Schulte during her freshman year of high school. Almost unbelievably, according to head coach Mike Rowe, she wasn’t entertaining any other offers.
“It was Michigan State all the way, and we agreed,” Rowe said. “We were just waiting on everything to be compliant and then it all just fell into place. Things like that just don’t happen very often. Basically, Skyla knew and her parents knew, which made it really easy.”
Schulte added, “I didn’t want to talk to any other colleges. This is where I want to be, these are the people I want to be around, this is the atmosphere I want to be in. I fell in love with it.”
Since Schulte grew up attending Michigan State football games, it felt like home. With her parents’ support as alumni, she knew that East Lansing was where she needed to be.
“They never forced me to come here either,” Schulte said. “When I first got offered freshman year, my dad was like, ‘Are you sure you don’t want to see other colleges just to make sure this is the place for you?’ And I was like ‘No, I really want to go here.’ And I have never regretted my decision.”
Schulte’s decision has already paid off. She already earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors while also contributing to Michigan State’s record-breaking score in a season opener.
Of course, her early success didn’t come as much of a surprise for the former five-star recruit who had plenty of success in level 10, most notably winning the Senior E national all-around title her senior year of high school.
“It has always been one of my goals to win nationals, but I think I was just too focused on the winning part and I forgot about how it was supposed to be fun,” Schulte said. “My coaches Jess [Hults] and Marco, they always told me you can win nationals, and every year I would mess up. That whole day I wasn’t even focused on winning.”
Now that she’s at Michigan State, Schulte has carried that mentality with her whether she is in the gym or on the competition floor. Rowe can sense it, too.
“Skyla’s a great kid, a great student, very friendly and goofy, and loves life. She’s a huge bright light walking into a room, and her energy is contagious,” Rowe said. “She is very technical, she’s very quick-twitched, she’s very motivated, enthusiastic—the list goes on. She comes from a program that really establishes great foundations and basics, so it’s very easy to upgrade skills. She’s fearless.”
After the Spartans’ oddly truncated season in 2021 ended after having only competing in two meets, Rowe and his staff made sure to bring this year’s freshmen on with ease and confidence to balance their energy with the rest of the team. The senior class is the only one to have experienced a full collegiate gymnastics season.
“They are very hungry, they are very competitive, and they have been waiting so long for this to happen.” Rowe said.
As for the rest of MSU’s season, expect more all around appearances from Schulte, as well as contributing to Michigan State’s team goals.
“We really do have the potential to go so far, and we are just getting started. I think this team can go all the way. Our team camaraderie, the way we get along so well, we always have each other’s backs. We are always there for each other. Our goal is to break out and show people what we can do as a whole.” Schulte added.
Schulte’s journey to Michigan State is a full-circle experience. She was once a little girl watching her older teammates earn scholarships to their dream schools, and now she’s there too.
“Now I am one of the older girls, so I want to set a good example for my younger self and the little girls watching.”
Who knows, maybe she will be the one to inspire those little girls watching to attend Michigan State, even if they are only in sixth grade.
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Article by Carolyn Lien, Photo by MSU Athletic Communications
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