Tara Walsh – Michigan Interview by Zoe D’Angelo Nomination by Rebecca Walsh Photography by Team Photo (gymnastics) and Selessa Holmberg (other) Inspiring Teens Magazine – Issue 23
Nomination: Tara Walsh is a dedicated, inspiring student, athlete, artist and model. Tara competes at the highest level of Junior Olympic gymnastics, is Region 5 floor exercise champion and 5th in the nation. She drives 15,000+ miles to go to the gym and an IB diploma program that is typically ranked nationally for rigor. Tara is a Summa Cum Laude student. She was chosen to represent her school at a statewide leadership conference. She is co-leader of the Art Club, is in National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society; and volunteers for the Miracle League of Michigan. http://www.gym-style.com/tarawalsh/index.htm
How did you become involved with gymnastics? What is your favorite event to compete in? I got involved in gymnastics because my older sisters were already taking gymnastics classes and loved it. When I was old enough my parents put me in parent tot classes. My favorite event to compete is floor. I love being able to show off my personal style through my dance. Tumbling on floor is my favorite because I love the feeling of doing big tumbling passes. People are always impressed with big tumbling on floor. I feel confident in my dance and skills, so I have fun competing floor.
Tell us about your gymnastics journey. I started gymnastics when I was 18 months old. I loved running around on the equipment. I progressed through the levels quickly, and was always very young for the level I was in. When I was 10, I began training elite. I trained 8 hours a day and began homeschooling. This experience made me more independent, because I was in charge of getting all of my schoolwork done on time. Two years later I went back to J.O gymnastics and made my goal college gymnastics. A year later I switched gyms. My new gym is an hour from my house and the drive alone was a big change for me. The whole gym was a change -- atmosphere, coaching, nutrition, and mindset. This atmosphere was exactly what I needed to achieve my goal of college gymnastics. In January I accepted an offer to compete on Auburn University’s gymnastics team. My gymnastics journey has been a long one, almost 16 years already, and it has shaped me into who I am today.
Image of Tara's artwork taken by Tara: This art project was to bring awareness to how attached people are to their phones. People rely on their phone for so many things these days, they rely on their phone to communicate with others, for directions, to get food, to take pictures, and to pay for things. People are so attached to our phones that we are at the point of no return, we are at a point that we can not come back from because people do not know how to live without their phone.
Where do you find inspiration for most of your artwork? The inspiration for my artwork depends on the purpose of the specific piece. If I am creating an artwork for Art class, I begin by choosing a message I want to convey to the viewer. After I pick the message I want to spread, I think of ways to show that visually. If I am creating a piece for fun, I find inspiration from other famous art I have seen in museums, or I think of them myself. My ideas usually come from my background in gymnastics, my love for fashion, and my friends and family.
Walk us through the process of when you are getting started to create art. For an assignment, my friends and I all sit at the same table and we talk, chill, and create our art projects together. If I am creating the piece for fun, I usually turn on some music, and sit by myself. For every art project I need the room very light, and I need a lot of space to work with.
What is something you want people to know as soon as they lie eyes on a piece of your work? When somebody looks at my artwork, I want them to immediately appreciate how much effort I put into it. I work very hard on every piece of art I make. For every piece of art, I research, practice, and plan out the project before I make it. These steps are essential to the process, but the amount of time and effort that those steps take are unseen in the finished project of work.
Image by Selessa Holmberg
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be where you are today? I would tell them to always persevere through adversity. When times get tough it is most important to continue to work toward your goals. The easy thing to do would be to quit and find a new goal but pushing through hard times makes achieving your goals that much better.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years/what are your plans for the future? I am committed to Auburn University, so in 5 years I think I will be graduating from Auburn University. I am undecided about what I want to major in right now, but by the time I am graduating I hope to have a career I want to go into. I think I will also be going into a school to get my master’s degree.
What about you inspires others/why do you think you are inspiring? I don’t think of myself as an inspiration. I have things that I want to accomplish and do it. When people tell me that I inspire them, I really have to look at myself to see what I do that is different from other people. I have been blessed with many opportunities and I work hard to make the most of them. I see others who may have the same opportunities but don't take advantage of them. I think that is why people see me as an inspiration -- I try to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way. I am not inspiring I am just an example of somebody that works hard, is thankful, takes changes, and is determined. I also try to encourage other teens to be the same way. This is our time to experience as much of life as we can, and I want everyone to take chances and do new and exciting things.
How do you keep yourself organized with everything you have on your plate? I learned good time management skills early in my gymnastics career. I go from school directly to the gym and do not get home until 9 P.M most days. I learned to do homework whenever I found myself with free time, even if I don’t want to be doing it. I also have to give up a lot to keep up with everything I do. I don't always get to hang out with my friends or family, and I cannot just sit around and watch a movie. I learned to get all my work done first before I can have fun with my friends.
Image by Selessa Holmberg
What is your favorite activity or pastime that wasn’t in your nomination? I love shopping. I love putting new outfits together and playing around with different styles of clothes. Also, my sisters love shopping too so it is something we can do together. It is a fun thing for us to do that we all enjoy and is such a fun way for us to spend our time together.
8. Pizza or Tacos? Soda or Water? Cats or Dogs? I would say Pizza because I am always in the mood for pizza. I really like tacos too, but sometimes I am not in the mood for tacos. Definitely water, because I drink so much a day that I could not go without it. Dogs, I love how playful and fun dogs are. Cats do not really cuddle with humans and they do not play with toys. Dogs are so much more fun to hang out with, and I could never leave my dog, Finn.
3 Things on your bucket list I really love to travel so my bucket list right now is just places I want to go. Right now, my travelling bucket list is Iceland, Australia, and Rome. I have more places I want to visit but those are my top three right now. Tara will be featured in Issue 23 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!