Already quite comfortable on the soccer pitch in her youth, Kayla Folz did not take long to realize that her athletic calling lie elsewhere. The grade 7 student at St Raphael School was introduced to gymnastics at the age of six, and a life-long passion developed.
"My parents put me in the sport (gymnastics) to try it and I loved it as soon as I started doing it," Folz said. Just six years later, the talented soon-to-be teenager has rocketed up the charts, competing within the Provincial Level 8 grouping this year.
Still not that far removed from her start at the GymZone, Folz easily recalls her early days at the facility. "I remember working on the little bars, doing pullovers and chin-ups," she said.
"You start, when you're little, with recreational, and once you improve and get better, you move on, eventually to Laurelettes and Cadets and eventually to Provincials," Folz added.
The eldest of two girls in the family, Folz has enjoyed many memorable meets over the years, though few better than a Muskoka competition just over one year ago. "It just ended up being a really good day and I stuck all of my skills perfectly," she said.
"I placed first on every apparatus except beam, where I placed second." The confidence garnered throughout the 2010-2011 season helped paved the way for a jump from Level 7 to Level 8 for the young gymnasts, although it was no walk in the park.
"It was one of the harder jumps, because I had to learn a lot of new skills in order to move up," Folz noted. "I had to change my vault and had to add some skills on the floor and beam. And there's my full twist on the floor. It's a skill I get sometimes, but I'm still working on it."
With an element of danger present as many new skills are perfected, Folz is thankful for the precautions that are always put in place. "A lot of spotting and making sure the athlete is comfortable," she said.
"The coach will never make you do something that you really are not comfortable with." While placing near the top of your grouping is constantly a goal towards which the athletes can strive, just searching for on-going improvement can prove to be extremely rewarding as well.
"I just try and focus on each event and get my best score on each apparatus," explained Folz. "That will bring up my overall score." The appeal to fast track through to Level 9 might be difficult for Folz to resist, though she seems quite realistic in looking ahead to her development as a gymnast.
"It might take me a little longer to get to the next skills" Folz stated, adding that there is increased demand on integrating a variety of twists in almost every single apparatus. "I've always said I'm a better flipper than a twister," she commented with a smile.
"It's just a habit that I acquired when I was younger." At roughly the same time her passion for gymnastics kicked in.