1 in 2000: Ryan Ruckdaschel ’15

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Megumi Kitamoto

Ryan Ruckdashel

By Megumi Kitamoto

Photo by Abby Burgess

While gymnastics is often associated with the Olympics, plenty of gymnasts, including Ryan Ruckdaschel ’15, walk the halls of West High.

“I started gymnastics when I was six [because] I’ve been flipping around and I’ve had a lot of energy since I was young. Gymnastics has taught me a lot of life lessons, because there’s going a lot of mental challenges that you have to overcome. Sometimes you just have to accept the fact that it is difficult and scary, but you just have to go in, because you never may know what come about,” Ruckdaschel said.

The energy has stayed with him, and Ruckdaschel practices with the coaches and sometimes the gymnasts of the University of Iowa men’s gymnastics team at the University of Iowa Field House for three hours every day after school.

During these grueling practices, Ruckdaschel has experienced some minor injuries, including tendonitis, back issues, shoulder problems and broken toes.

“[I overcame the injuries] by thinking that I didn’t want [them] to get in the way of my goals or my future in the sport,” Ruckdaschel said.

These injuries also prove Ruckdaschel’s point that gymnastics is one of the most underestimated sports in terms of difficulty.

“[Gymnastics] is more than being able to do the splits. [Gymnasts] have to be incredibly strong mentally and physically. It’s a much more mental sport than everybody thinks,” Ruckdaschel said.

Despite the difficulty of the sport, Ruckdaschel enjoys the floor exercise, where one incorporates acrobatic elements into their performance.

“[It’s] always been a favorite because it’s always the easiest event to learn new things on, and I find it really fun. It’s challenging because it requires a lot of endurance, but I still really like it,” Ruckdaschel said.

Ruckdaschel also expresses interest in continuing something related to gymnastics in the future.

“As of right now, I’m not really sure what I want to do in the future as far as a career goes, but I want to be involved [with gymnastics] somehow in my future, whether [if it is] competing in college or being a team manager for a team or something like that. I would definitely want to stay with it,” Ruckdaschel said.