When state champion gymnast Jozi Eubanks heads to the gym, she’s literally going to school in more ways than one. The University View Academy 7th-grader trains at Athletes in Motion, or AIM, in Prairieville, and that’s also where her classroom and Learning Coach is. For the first three hours at AIM, she concentrates on her UVA online lessons and live-sessions via computer under the guidance of her Learning Coach Maryam Diaab. Then, there’s a break for lunch followed by four grueling hours of workouts and routines Monday through Friday. Her mother, Jessica, praised the flexibility UVA offers. She said it “Keeps us from getting home at 9 o’clock at night,” referring to Jozi’s schedule when she attended school in Ascension Parish. Getting home earlier allows Jozi to resume school work.
Jozi competes as an all-around gymnast in exercises on uneven parallel bars, balance beam, vault, and floor. She “…loves flipping…” and bars and beam are her favorites, she said enthusiastically. Jozi won a state championship last year and is one of the top eight gymnasts for her level in Louisiana. She said she wants to be good enough to become a member of the highly-rated LSU gymnastics team. But success can be fleeting without the right mind-set. Mom, Jessica, said gymnastics teaches Jozi life-lessons through sportsmanship. “It’s difficult to not come out in first place, and that’s been a struggle to learn,” she said. “I tell her to do your best. There’s always going to be someone better, and if you want to beat ’em, you’ve got to train,” she emphasized. There were times Jozi said she was done with gymnastics after a tough competition, but mom said, “There she was back in the gym working hard on Monday morning.”
Jessica also commends teachers at UVA for their work ethic, especially communication. “I just want to talk to the teacher,” said Jessica with a touch of exasperation. “It was so nice to hear from them,” eluding to some frustration when Jozi attended her previous school. “The teachers are great,” Jozi exclaimed as she described how she enjoys live sessions where students and teachers use their computer headset microphones to hold discussions. She said English Language Arts is her favorite subject.
Gymnastics at Jozi’s level means lots of travel to competitions. One weekend she and her family could be in Texas, the next Georgia or Mississippi. Despite the hectic pace of training and travel, gymnastics is what she dreams about. Her favorite is “Me sticking my rotations, being great at a meet and being an LSU gymnast,” she said with conviction.