Local gymnast reacts to Larry Nassar's sentencing
HOUSTON – The sentencing of disgraced Dr. Larry Nassar, formerly of USA Gymnastics, has sent shock waves throughout the country.
The local gymnastics community, however, is determined to move forward and focus on the positives that exists within the sport.
One gymnast who recently trained at the Karolyi Ranch described her experience.
"I train every day except Sunday," said 13-year-old Sophia Butler, who used to split her time between Discover Gymnastics in Houston and the camp at the Karolyi Ranch.
At the ranch, she trained alongside elite gymnasts.
"I just love the sensation of flying. I think it's, like, the coolest thing ever," Sophia said.
Nassar once worked at the Karolyi Ranch -- a place where several Olympians said they were molested by him.
Nassar's situation, in part, caused USA Gymnastics to sever ties with Karolyi Ranch. Activities there, including an international meet for which Sophia qualified just last week, were canceled.
"We were all excited. It just pushed us to do really well, this camp, and it was just kind of sad finding out that it wasn't going to happen," Sophia said.
While Sophia trained at the ranch, she never met Nassar.
"All of my experiences have been nothing but good," Sophia said.
She said she got to meet and train with many elite gymnasts and improved her skills there. But the situation involving Nassar sparked a need for conversation about what happened.
"We did talk about it. I understand fully what happened," Sophia said. "I have such mad respect for the girls who came out about it, because it seemed difficult to do."
Discover Gymnastics gym owner Carly Markesich said the situation was a huge disappointment to the entire community.
"It's horrific," Markesich said.
She said the situation is a shame because the sport itself is such a positive thing for these girls.
"I think that it makes these girls strong -- strong in mind and body -- and it's part of the strength of the courage they had to speak up," Markesich said.
Markesich and Butler hope people will see the positive aspects of gymnastics, rather than this case. She said the sport teaches discipline, teamwork, dedication and perseverance.
"I wouldn't be the same person as I was if it wasn't for gymnastics," Sophia said.
Sophia said she is already training for another qualifier in February.
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