Interview with former gymnast Dayna Goen

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

This month I would like to share an interview I recently conducted with Dayna Goen, former four-time Ohio state gymnastics qualifier from Worthington Kilbourne High School (class of 2003). Dayna shared her insight on competitive gymnastics, including all the personal sacrifices needed to become one of the best. She also detailed the time and money commitments involved and the skills she learned while pushing herself to success.

CS: Dayna, the sport of gymnastics, while scored as a team sport, often is really an individual sport when it's just you out there competing on the beam, floor, vault, or bars. Man gymnasts "peak" during their teen years--something quite unique compared to other sports. Can you tell our readers about the time and money commitment involved in competitive gymnastics, as well some of the things the sport taught you?

DG: As far as training goes, I spent about four hours each night after school, and as many as four to five hours a day on weekends. On average, my parents probably spent over $10,000 a year, including gym fees, private lessons and travel expenses for competitions and camps.

Gymnastics taught me a lot while I was growing up. Since I always wanted to compete at a high level, I became responsible and disciplined at a young age. I knew that school was very important and if I wanted to continue with gymnastics I needed to keep good grades. That meant going to school, then directly to gymnastics, then home to do homework, then go to sleep and repeat this routine day after day. As a result, I was able to become an accomplished individual both in academics and gymnastics.

CS: Wow, that's quite impressive! Can you talk more about what personal sacrifices you made in order to become so good at such an early age?

DG: Gymnastics was equivalent to having a part-time job. Being a dedicated and committed gymnast meant spending many hours in the gym. The more time I put into gymnastics, the more I got out of it and the better gymnast I became. It also meant putting in extra hours on top of daily practices. I worked with Kelly Garrison, a former Olympian, several days a month which sometimes totaled about six hours a day in the gym, on top of going to school.

CS: It certainly sounds as though you had a great experience while competing, but I'm curious if there were any particular challenges you had that parents might benefit from knowing.

DG: I never imagined ending my gymnastics career would be one of the toughest things I would ever have to do, but it was. Gymnastics defined who I was for 13 years and then all of a sudden, after the state competition my senior year in high school, it was all over. I struggled with weight over the next several years, trying to maintain the body of a competitive gymnast. But I eventually learned that goal was not realistic. I also struggled with what to do with all of the extra time I had that previously was consumed by gymnastics.

CS: Do you have any final advice to offer parents who want to help their kids excel in sports?

DG: My parents were my biggest supporters throughout my gymnastics career. It was clear that I needed to maintain very good grades in order to continue with gymnastics. They set the standard high so I could rise above and beyond even my own expectations. They paid attention, listened and helped me through the rough practices, competitions and school projects. They attended every competition (local, regional and national) and videotaped them as well, not only because they cared, but also so I was able to see and recognize my own accomplishments. My best advice for parents is to follow this example because your child needs you as parents and supporters. Kids need someone to go to for advice, someone who knows them best. Be supportive and always be their number one fan.

CS: And how about advice for the next Mary Lou Retton, Keri Strugg, or Dayna Goen reading this article?

DG: Love what you do and keep the passion for it and you will be extremely successful in your performance and you will make great strides in self-fulfillment!

More resources

Dr. Chris Stankovich offers individual athletic counseling and team/league seminars. Call (614) 561-4482, or visit for more details.