Women's Gymnastics

Melissa Fernandez
Melissa Fernandez


Eudora, Kan.

High School:





2011 - Senior: Set an Illinois record by earning three All-America honors at the NCAA Championships, picking up first-team honors on beam and in the all-around and second-team accolades on floor ... Became the first Illini to reach the podium in the all-around, tying for fifth in the nation after matching a career high with a 39.375 during the NCAA semifinal ... Recorded the highest finish in program history at NCAA event finals, as she tied for fifth on balance beam with a 9.8375 ... Finished her career as a four-time All-American, the most in school history ... First-team All-Big Ten selection for the second consecutive year ... Took second in the all-around and on uneven bars and fourth on vault at the Big Ten Championships ... Competed in every single meet, including 13 in the all-around, and hit a team-best 55-of-56 routines ... Tied for second on the team with seven individual titles this season (UB-2, BB-4, AA-1) and finished her career with 23 titles (VT-1, UB-7, BB-13, AA-2) ... Named team's Most Valuable Gymnast and Consistent Beam Performer and Most Outstanding with Allison Buckley along with sharing the team's Scholar-Athlete award with Samantha Perino ... Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, Academic All-Big Ten and Scholastic All-American selection ... Named a second-team Academic All-American, the first in program history.

2010 - Junior: First-team All-Big Ten selection ... Suffered a right lower leg injury at the Big Ten Championships on vault, forcing her out of the final two events and limiting her action at the NCAA Central Regional ... Set or tied her career high on every event ... Was third on the team with 11 individual titles this season (VT-1, UB-5, BB-4, AA-1) while picking up multiple event titles at four meets ... Was second on the team with 29 top-3 finishes ... Competed in the all-around in 11 of 14 meets where she topped the 39-mark eight times ... Tallied the ninth-best all-around score in school history with a 39.375 at the State of Illinois Classic ... Named team's Most Valuable Gymnast and shared Most Outstanding performer honors with Sarah Schmidt ... Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, Academic All-Big Ten and Scholastic All-American selection.

2009 - Sophomore: First-team All-American on the balance beam, Illinois' first ever ... Tied for first on beam in the evening session at the NCAA Championships with a 9.900 to advance to the event final, the first Illini to do so ... Finished seventh at the NCAA beam final with a 9.8375, earning a spot on the podium ... Tied for second on beam (9.875) and sixth on vault (9.875) at the Big Ten Championships ... Tied for fourth on beam (9.875) at the West Regional ... Tied the second-best beam score in UI history with a 9.925 at Missouri to win the event title ... Recorded five balance beam titles on the season ... Scored a 38.825 in the only all-around performance of her career to take fourth at the Chicago Style Invite ... Hit 36 of 38 routines on the season, including a perfect 14-for-14 on beam ... Named the team's Most Improved Gymnast and Most Consistent Beam performer ... Academic All-Big Ten and Scholastic All-American selection.

2008 - Freshman: Competed on vault and beam in every meet and competed floor in 12 of 13 meets ... Performed her best gymnastics at the end of the season, equalling two career-highs at the NCAA South Central Regional meet - 9.800 on vault and 9.800 on floor ... Placed seventh on beam with a 9.800 at the South Central Regional ... Scored a season-best 9.850 on beam to take third against Missouri ... Won the team's Scholar-Athlete Award ... Named a Scholastic All-American by the NACGC/W.

High School/Club: Finished eighth in the all-around at the 2007 Junior Olympic National Championships, while also taking sixth on floor and seventh on vault ... Placed second in the all-around and on vault, as well as fifth on bars and sixth on floor at the 2007 Level 10 Regional Championships ... Qualified for the 2006 Nationals where she placed second on the beam, seventh on floor, and 10th in the all-around ... Champion on beam, third on vault and fifth on floor at the 2006 Region III Championships ... 2006 Kansas State Champion on vault, beam, and floor ... As a Level 9 in 2005, she placed second in the all-around at the Level 9 Western Nationals ... Coached by Anne Heffernon and James Sampel ... Club team was KGDC.

Personal: Born Nov. 2, 1988 ... Daughter of Steve and Tami Klinedinst ... Says she chose Illinois because "the team really made me feel welcomed and it has great academics" ... Member of the high honor roll in high school with a 4.0 GPA ... Was active in Student Council throughout high school ... Named Who's Who in American High School Academics ... Major is kinesiology.

Melissa's Career Highs
Vault: 9.875 (twice, last 3/20/10)
Bars: 9.925 (twice, last 3/13/10)
Beam: 9.925 (twice, last 2/6/10)
Floor: 9.875 (3/6/11)
All-Around: 39.375 (3x, 4/15/11)

Individual Titles
Vault: 1
Bars: 7
Beam: 13
All-Around: 2
Total: 23

The Fernandez File
Nickname: Mel
I chose Illinois because: The phenomenal team chemistry and how the entire Illini atmosphere made U of I feel like a home away from home
Favorite place on campus: It's a tie between Starbucks and Espresso Royale because they're both great places for coffee and studying
Best memory as an Illini: Competing at Regionals in Seattle where we qualified for Nationals and competing in event finals on beam at Nationals
Being a Fighting Illini means: A commitment to excellence and success in the gym and in the classroom
Funniest teammate: Elise Gill
Best dressed teammate: Hannah Welker
Secret talent of one of my teammates: Elise can bake anything! She once made a mean lemon meringue pie
Something I have to bring on every road trip: My blue travel pillow and my ipod
Pre-meet superstitions: Visualize each routine perfectly at the event when there aren't many people in the arena
Favorite event: Balance Beam
Favorite skill to watch or compete: One legged front flip on beam
Favorite athlete: Sherron Collins (Kansas Basketball)
Favorite Illini athlete: Paul Ruggeri (Men's Gymnastics)
Favorite sports team: KU Basketball
Favorite movie: The Hangover
Favorite TV show: Tie between Dexter and The Office
Favorite book: The Time Traveler's Wife
Favorite food: Frozen yogurt
Favorite activity outside gymnastics: Running
Favorite restaurant: Buttitta's
Favorite band: Jack Johnson or Lil Wayne
Dream Job: Anything that helps/influences other people
Unique or quirky habit: I keep a daily diary
Actress I would want to play me in a movie about my life: Rachel McAdams
Cartoon character that best describes me: Someone once told me Ariel from The Little Mermaid
Super power I would most like to have: Being able to teleport so I would never be late to anything
Best thing I cook in the kitchen: Chicken alfredo pasta with broccoli
Person I would most like to spend a day with: Will Ferrell or Steve Carell
If I was on a reality show it would be: The Real World
If I wasn't a gymnast, I would play: Track & field (pole vault)
One thing I can't go a day without: Coffee and gum
One thing I've always dreamt about doing: Skydiving and traveling the world
Three words that describe me are: Loyal, caring, determined
Career Plans: Apply for Cirque de Soleil

Updated April 2011