Athlete of the Month Mackenzie Black is shown, center, signing for a full Division I gymnastics scholarship with West Virginia University.
By Steve Svetovich
Hard work and dedication pay off even to those who are the most modest of sorts.
Take Mackenzie Black, for instance.
The Dunmore high school senior accepted a Division I scholarship and a spot on the gymnastics team at West Virginia University.
Emilia Raynova, instructor at the United Sports Academy, Dunmore, made the announcement last month.
Daughter of Shanette Black and Thomas Nolan, MacKenzie was one of three local high school gymnasts who were accepted into a Division I college on a full athletic scholarship for the coming year.
The others were Adeline Rider of Scranton Prep and Donna Howell of the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School. All earned spots on their respective gymnastic teams.
“This is a great accomplishment,” said Raynova. “Not many gyms in the country are lucky enough to achieve the same results, especially having three seniors in the same year.
“We are so proud of our girls and their coaches. Only about 200 gymnasts in the nation receive a scholarship to a division 1 university every year and our girls have earned their spot for three of them.
“All three girls worked for this moment for over 10 years.”
MacKenzie, 17, signed her letter of intent early last month. She has been a gymnast at United States Sports Academy for the past 12 years.
MacKenzie, who has a 91 academic average at Dunmore, talked about her experience at the United States Sports Academy. “It’s a very welcoming environment,” she said. “It helps to keep us humble in terms of our success.
“I spend a lot of time there. I spend about 21 hours a week at the United States Sports Academy. The coaches there are like our second family.
MacKenzie said Raynova was initially her instructor. Her current coaches are Omar Egas and Sylvia Topalova.
“I learned everything from my coaches. Mr. Omar taught me that dedication is so important. Without it, you cannot go far in gymnastics.
“Sylvia teaches us how to be neater and control our anxiety.”
MacKenzie is very close to her mom. “My mom teaches me about modesty. She told me that if you do well, not everyone should know about it. Never brag about accomplishments. That keeps me level.”
The highly talented yet humble Dunmore senior talked about what is takes to be a good gymnast. “You need dedication and perseverance.”
She talked about her future goals.
“I would like to make it to the nationals and go to the West Virginia camp and help coach in the summer.
“I want to be successful in life, have a family and provide for them. I want to be able to provide for my mom in later years.”
LOCAL GYMNASTS on level 9 and 10 include, from left: Adeline Rieder, Mackenzie Black, Calista Marzolino (middle), Grace Amico (top middle), Emma Firmstone (bottom), Julia Firmstone (right middle), Tayler Osterhout (top right).
Gymnasts from the United State Sports Academy, located in Dunmore, have received new awards. Ten-year- old Level 4 gymnast, Maura Michalczyk, recently competed in the Springtime Meltdown and took home first place on Vault, Balance Beam, Floor and All Around.
Level 10 gymnast, 16-year-old Mackenzie Black, had two more winning competitions.The first one was the Heartland Spring Classic where she won first place on Floor, Vault and All Around as well as third place on Balance Beam. Mackenzie and her teammate, Emma Firmstone, both made it to the event finals in which they only take the top six scores of all ages and competed against 59 other level 10 girls. At the event finals, Mackenzie came in first place on Vault, second on Floor, and sixth on Beam.
Mackenzie just competed in the Level 10 State Championship and finished first on Vault and third place All Around. In two weeks she will be competing in Regionals at Virginia Beach.
The academy’s Tumble Team State Champions include: Veronica Matthies and Monica Fonaszewski – Level 5, Leslie Major – Level 6, Madelynn Perfilio -Level 7.
Level 5 girls have been undefeated this season and won the First Place Team Award at States. Cara Martinez became the Level 5 All Around State Champion and finished first on Vault, first on Beam, first on Floor, second on Bars. Luciana Toczdlowski became the Level 5 Floor champion and also came in second place on Beam and second All Around. Camryn Thomas became the Level 5 Bars Champion and tied for second place on Vault and third All Around.
Anna Clifton is Level 8 Vault State Champion. Donna Howell is Level 9 All Around State Champion as well as first place on Bars, third on Vault and first on Beam.
Other champions at States were: Anna Clifton – Level 8 Vault State Champion; Donna Howell – Level 9 All Around State Champion as well as first place on Bars, third on Vault and first on Beam; Emma Firmstone and Mackenzie Black – Level 10 State Champions. Emma came in second place All Around and won first place on Beam (Beam Champion). Mackenzie came in third Place AA and first place on Vault (Vault Champion)