Gymnast springboards hard work into Big Ten scholarship

Sarnia’s Amy Bladon has accepted a full-ride gymnastics scholarship to Penn State University. Troy Shantz

Troy Shantz

Sarnia gymnast Amy Bladon can already see a pot of gold at the end of her training rainbow.

The Great Lakes Secondary student has signed a letter of intent to attend the Pennsylvania State University in the fall 2019 on a full-ride scholarship.

“I guess they liked me!” said Bladon with a laugh.

The 16-year-old artistic gymnast competes in floor exercise, vault, uneven bars and balance beam, and trains out of the Bluewater Gymnastics club under the direction of Dave and Liz Brubaker.

She was introduced to the sport as a toddler while attending a birthday party at the Sarnia club. At the age of three she was hooked.

Now, the 5’2” athlete trains about 25 hours a week, hitting the gym from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and again from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“In the summer it’s practicing new skills … but right now we’re starting to build up our routines,” she said.

For the most part, Bladon’s intense training regime overlaps her school schedule, a point Great Lakes’ principle Paul Wiersma pointed out during the interview. And between them, the school and club ensure what she misses at class is picked up online or at summer school.

“It teaches you more than just gymnastics. It teaches you time management and dedication,” Bladon said.

She attends about five meets a year including the Elite Canada in February and the Canadian nationals in May.

Competing this year as a senior at the Canadian Championships in Montreal, Bladon finished 10th overall.

The Brubakers have worked with Bladon from an early age and are pleased about the scholarship. It recognizes her years of hard work, Dave Brubaker said.

“The scholarship is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”

The Grade 11 student is still two years away from Penn State. Her future coaches have told her to keep doing what she’s doing and provide occasional video clips of her progress.

So for now it’s business as usual at Bluewater, Bladon said.

“I have a lot of fun. If I’m having a rough day … I can just go there and it calms me down.”