Passion is the driving force behind an athlete and their pursuit of excellence in a sport. Whenever someone develops a love for a sport at a young age, it can either be a passing fad, or an interest that can’t be overlooked, which is something that rings true for Lauryn Fawcett.
Competition has been a part of her life ever since she was a child playing soccer and softball, but as much as she enjoyed these sports, she would always return to the jungle gym in her backyard to explore her true passion, gymnastics. At a young age, Fawcett, now 20, an exercise science major at Slippery Rock University, developed a love for the sport greater than anything she had ever experienced. Her enjoyment of the sport couldn’t be ignored by her or her parents for long, and at the age of five she enrolled in her first gymnastics class.
After taking classes for over a year, Fawcett’s gym closed, and she was forced to take time off from gymnastics until she was able to find a new venue to train at. During that time, she kept active by participating in the family sport, karate, which she began learning at age four. She trained with her mother and brothers, Erik and Joey, and they were all taught by her father, the owner of Fawcett Karate.
She enjoyed training with her brothers, but at times, they weren’t able to take each other seriously. One of the best parts of having her father as an instructor was having the ability to ask him questions outside of karate school, because she was hesitant about asking for help in front of her classmates.
“It was nice that I never felt alone or scared in a class because I always had family there,” Fawcett said.
After rigorous training and help from her father, she was able to test for her first degree black belt at age eight. She had to pass a series of tests at the Fawcett Karate Studio including the traditional board breaking ceremony.
Four years later, she went back to the sport she loved after focusing on karate and a variety of other sports in the interim, and started training at Debi and Rick’s School of Gymnastics. From that moment forward, she put all of her effort into gymnastics, and her hard work and determination was recognized by her coaches, who were eager start training her for competitions.
“When I tried out for the gym that I went to, they saw what kind of skills I had, and said that they could put me on a competing track,” Fawcett said. “My parents asked me if I wanted to do that, and I was all for it.”
At just 10 years old, after only six years of training, Fawcett tested for her second degree black belt in karate. In order to qualify for her belt, she had to write a 1,000 word essay focusing on why she enjoyed the sport. She credits the time that she spent on the karate mat during those years with helping her become more disciplined and focused in her gymnastics training.
Two years into her competitive training, she was faced with the task of finding a new gym to call home after Debi and Rick’s closed its doors. After an extensive search, Fawcett then 11 was able to find a new gym, Gym Dandy’s, that she felt comfortable at, but they had a training style foreign to what she had been taught in previous years, which added stress to her back.
“I started to feel really sore in the lower region of my back,” Fawcett said. “I went to the doctor and they said that I had a fracture in my lower back.”
She rested her back at the advice of her doctor and her coaches, but continued to do exercises that didn’t require her to bend her back. After three months, Fawcett returned to the mat, strong again after her break from rigorous training, ready to take on the competition circuit by storm.
She became fast friends with Danielle Casiere after she started training at Gym Dandy’s and still credits her as one of her closest friends. Casiere, 20, a 14 year veteran of gymnastics, has known Fawcett ever since she was 11 years old. She describes Fawcett as the hardest working athlete that she has ever met.
Casiere said that Fawcett was always there after an event to congratulate her or pick her up if she did badly. Fawcett was always determined to do her best, which inspired Casiere to perform her best as well.
“Even if she didn’t say anything to motivate me,” Casiere said. “Her actions did because secretly I always wanted to beat her, but I’ve never told her that.
Fawcett continued to train hard and attended numerous state and regional competitions. The overall score required to be able to compete in these events increased depending on competitors’ scores, which made it necessary to work harder to be able to attend competitions.
In order to keep her skills sharp throughout the year, she participated in her high school’s talent show, something that Nicole Short, 20, remembers well. For four years she watched Fawcett dazzle the audience with her exceptional tumbling and dance routines, as the only gymnast to ever participate in the event.
“She was the only one to ever perform a gymnastics routine during Varieties,” Short said. “It was always fun to watch her perform routines to songs from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.”
Finally, during her senior year of high school, Fawcett now a Level 9 gymnast, made her first trip to Nationals. There she competed on the uneven bars, the balance beam, and more. Over the course of her karate and gymnastics career, Lauryn Fawcett excelled in each of these sports and became an accomplished athlete. Now retired from competing in the sports she loved, she holds close to heart the skills that she learned. Choosing to focus her life on school and becoming a Physical Therapist is where her passion now lies, but what she learned and the friends she made in karate and gymnastics will forever be a special part of her life.