Growing as a Gymnast: Senior Michelle Barreto

Rylee Genner

Season after season, the girls gymnastics team has proved its abilities, scoring high in, if not winning, almost all of their meets. Having been on the team since her freshman year, senior Michelle Barreto has greatly contributed to this success, as she continues to put in a lot of hard work and effort for the team during her last year with WJ gymnastics.


At a very young age, Barreto began doing gymnastics as a recreational activity. After taking a break, she started back up again when she was in seventh grade. Since then, she has worked to improve her skills and grow as a gynmnast.


“I practice at Marva [Tot-n-Teens] when I’m not doing WJ gymnastics, and I make sure to stretch often to stay flexible,” she said.


Her efforts have certainly paid off, as she has grown to become a big asset to WJ’s team, both as a. encouraging captain and a fierce competitor.


“I have improved my skill level a lot since I first started [gymnastics],” said Barreto. “It takes a lot of work on each particular skill to get it perfect.”


Barreto usually competes in beam and floor events, and occasionally does bars. She says she is always sure to excel when competing, whether it is on the bars or on the beam. She recently succeeded in scoring a total of 9.60 points of WJ’s 142.70 points at the team’s first meet against Blair on March 25, where WJ placed second overall.


However, scoring points to help the team win isn’t the only way Barreto contributes to the team. As a senior captain, she has stepped up this year to lead the team and encourage the younger gymnasts.


“Michelle is a big help as far as being the role of a captain,” said co-coach Ursula Bright. “She gets the team together and has a great attitude, and she is always happy and gets the girls pumped up for our meets.”


Barreto believes that encouraging and cheering on her fellow teammates is an important part of being a team, and one of the keys to a successful season.


“The support of teammates is just as important as the help you get from your coach,” said Barreto.


As far as the season goes, she has great faith in the team’s abilities this year, and predicts that they will go far.


“We have a really strong team this year, including a few great new freshmen,” said Barreto.  “We definitely have a chance at winning counties.”


Baretto has not yet decided where she will be attending college next year. Regardless of where she chooses to go, she plans to continue to gymnastics, either at the collegiate level or at the club level.


“Gymnastics is a lot of fun,” said Barreto. “It’s not only about strength; it is about rhythm and grace, too.”