Junior Kyle Padera
March 3, 2008
Throughout the 2008 season, Illinois gymnasts will walk Illini fans through the entire season, giving in depth looks into the team and the season, while also giving gymnastics enthusiasts a closer look into the six different events that make up a gymnastics meet. Overall, the Illini, who have finished in the top five at NCAA Championships the last five straight years, hope to give Orange and Blue fans an exciting ride through the 2008 season as they vie for the programs 10th national title in 2008.
In the seventh edition of the Illini Weekly Q & A, we talk with junior Kyle Padera, who explains how gymnastics is a family thing for some athletes. Then he gives us some insight on how to pick out the best gymnasts at a young age.
How did you get started in gymnastics?
"I'm in a family of four and I have an older sister, a twin sister and a younger brother. I was the last one to start the sport so my mom just asked me if I wanted to do it too. I said that I would give it a shot, so I started it at six or seven and I just stuck with it and continued to do it with my family. That's pretty much how I started, and now my brother and I are the only ones still doing it. Unfortunately, I had to quit baseball, which I kind of liked, but it was for the best in the end."
You mentioned' having a twin sister. Where does she go to school and what is your relationship like?
"I would say we're close. She's a girl, so I think it's different than having a twin brother where you share a lot more in common. I used to hang out with her friends in middle school and high school, so we were a lot closer when we were younger, but we are very similar now. We have similar personalities, similar interests and are really close friends too. Even though she's at Illinois State, I still talk to her a lot. Actually, my older sister went there too, so all the girls went to ISU and the boys will go to U of I."
You talked about your brother C.J. Padera. He is going to be joining the team next year as a freshman. Talk about what it's going to be like to have your brother as a teammate.
"We will actually have two years together because I have a fifth year of eligibility, so I'm really excited. I'm really looking forward to having a family member on the team, especially CJ, who is just a goofball. He is just out there. He's going to be an exciting gymnast too. I know my mom will be less anxious having him here with me. I have no expectations other than I know it's going to be fun and crazy."
After getting to know you a bit, now a more gymnastics type question. Do you think gymnastics is one of those sports you have to start at a young age?
"That's a good point. Normally, with high school gymnastics you have all these kids that are just starting as freshman and you really don't see too many of those guys make it to the collegiate level. Through that rationale, I guess you would have to say it's a sport that you do have to start young; because you just progress from everything you learn when you're young. I learned a back flip at about six and these guys are learning when they're 16, so that gives me a step up. I definitely think it's one of those sports that you gradually learn."
So, if you start young, how does one determine that someone has potential to be good at four years of age?
"That's another funny point. It seems like, a lot of times it's the kids who don't listen to you who are really good. It's weird because the kids who are crazy and are balls of energy generally turn out to be good gymnasts, or it's the kids who do the skills cleanly the first time. Although, it's hard to tell that at such a young age, but anyone can tell the difference between a good gymnast and a bad gymnast as they progress."
So it is clear if you start out young, it is the kids who stay in it that are going to be the best. What is it that has made you stay with the sport?
"It has turned into my life after doing it for so long. After you start doing it 5-6 days a week for three and a half hours a day, for me it kind of started to become a part of my personality. First, you fall in love with the sport and then you hate the sport and then you fall in love with it again. It's really a love-hate relationship a lot of times. I'm proud of it. I'm proud of gymnastics. I'm proud of the sport. I'm proud of my team. I wouldn't give it up for anything. It's mainly who I am and I wouldn't change a thing."