Category Archives: interview

Eleven Questions With Standout U.S. Gymnast…Kaitlin DeGuzman

Hello gymterneters and Chatty Gymnast fans!

In this article, U.S. Level 10 and recently turned Junior International Elite, Kaitlin DeGuzman, will answer eleven questions that we posed to her – discussing gymnastics, school and future plans! So, please take a read;

CG: This Level 10 season you placed 11th at Nastia Liukin Cup and 14th at Nationals, how did the season go for you, personally?

KDG: This season was great over all. Personally, I think I could’ve done better but overall, I am very happy with my results and how I finished.

CG: You recorded a score of 39.375 at States this year, are you aware that this is the highest score of 2015? How does it feel to hold that record?

KDG: I was not aware that this was the highest Level 10 score of 2015. If only I can score like that every time in Elite, that would be awesome! 😀

CG: You’ve recently qualified to the U.S. Classic as a Junior International Elite. What are your goals as a first year elite?

KDG: My goals are to place Top 5 at Secret U.S. Classics and to make it to P&G’s [U.S. Nationals].

CG: Do you plan on upgrading your routines for this upcoming elite season?

KDG: Yes, I do.

CG: As you were born in the Phillipines and have Filipino heritage, do you plan to represent them in international competition? Or will you stick with the US?

KDG: I don’t know if I will be good enough to compete for the U.S. as there are so many good gymnasts. [She didn’t provide a certain answer]

CG: You’re now homeschooled – Do you miss public school or do you prefer the freedom of homeschooling? KDG: I miss public school but personally, I prefer homeschooling. However, I still want to go to prom! ❤ 😀

CG: Describe your daily routine and how many hours you train per week

KDG: This is how my day looks like. I normally wake up at 6:15 am take a shower and eat on the go. I like to be over 30 minutes early for gym so I can relax before I start my workout. After morning practice I eat lunch, sometimes I go to therapy but most of the time I do my school work. I usually do more school work after afternoon practice while waiting for my mom to finish coaching. We head home eat dinner and get ready for bed. If I have time I usually watch one of my favorite TV shows.

CG: You’re age eligible for the 2016 Olympics next year, is this your main goal?

KDG: I would love the experience; if it’s God’s plan for me.

CG: Are you interested in doing collegiate gymnastics after high school graduation? Do you have any colleges in mind already?

KDG: Yes, I think it would be fun to compete in college gymnastics. However, I don’t have any colleges in mind yet.

CG: After you’ve finished gymnastics and college, what are your career aspirations? If you know, of course. 

KDG: I think I would like to become a veterinarian and/or a physical therapist.

CG: What advice would you give to gymnasts who aspire to compete at your level? Train hard, honour God. Never give up on anything because it will be worth it in the end. Also, take one practice at a time!

Evidently, you can see that Kaitlin is a ‘lady of few words’; as described by John Roethlisberger during the 2015 Nastia Liukin Cup broadcast but I like that about her! DeGuzman has her work cut out if she’s serious about making the U.S. Olympic team next year but, if she decided to compete for the Philippines, they would have a serious mega team; Ava Verdeflor, Lizzy LeDuc and then Kaitlin!

I’m sure time will tell if she’s the one for Rio!

An article by James Greaves – editor in chief for Chatty Gymnast

NOTE: We’re currently very interested in new writers for the blog. Think you could fill this role? E-mail us at; 🙂

An Exclusive with Sam Peszek

Recently, Chatty Gymnast caught up with recent UCLA graduate, Sam Peszek, who has just finished her final season competing for the UCLA Bruins gymnastics team – winning two NCAA National titles this season. In the interview, we discussed topics such as UCLA, Beijing 2008, future career plans and the motherly love of Miss Val! This is definitely worth a read!

So, here it goes!

  1. You’ve just completed your final season as a UCLA Bruin. How have your experiences at UCLA and as a student-athlete shaped you as a person?

SP: My experiences at UCLA have shaped me tremendously as a person. I am so lucky to have great coaches that not only want us to succeed athletically and academically, but more importantly in life. At UCLA I felt extremely challenged to be the best I could be and to set the bar even higher for myself when I graduate. I loved every minute of it and couldn’t think of a better place to set me up for life after college.

  1. Also this season, you won two NCAA National titles; what did it feel like to take these titles home?

SP: It was really nice to end my gymnastics career on such a great note. I’ve always loved gymnastics and truthfully was nervous to be done competing. However, I feel completely at peace with moving on and excited for the “life after gymnastics,” I’ve heard so many people talk about.

  1. Back in 2013, you tore your Achilles and were sidelined from competition for the whole 2013 season. How did you cope with this and how did you motivate yourself to get back for the next season? 

SP: I was really devastated by this actually because it was right before season and I had worked so hard that pre-season. It was also such a bummer because I love competing, but I really used this year to figure out how I wanted my next two years of gymnastics to go and focused on what I was going to do differently. Not only was I a better leader from the experience, but I was also a smarter athlete.

  1. You’ve been very entertaining hosting the UCLA Gymnastics web series Bruin Banter throughout this season. As you’re a Communications Studies major, was this a project you created yourself?

SP: It started as my idea that I told Miss Val about the year I was injured and she helped me make it happen. It has definitely evolved since then and this year we were fortunate enough to have Deanna Hong to edit it and together we had ideas/themes for each week. I’m really proud of how it went this year and hopefully it can be a tradition that is continued from here……Danusia is the host this season and she’ll be amazingly entertaining

  1. Now that you’ve graduated college, where will you go next? Do you have any career ideas yet?

SP: I’m traveling a lot in the summer staying in the gymnastics community, however I am working on a lot of different projects! I would love to get into broadcasting and eventually get my MBA.

  1. Miss Val is a woman that the Gymternet hold dearly in our hearts. What is she like as a coach and as a person, outside of Gymnastics?

  SP:  Miss Val has been a coach, a mentor, a friend, a life coach and everything in between. I can’t thank her enough for teaching me so much about life. When you go to college it is a big transition no matter where you go, but I’m extremely lucky to have her and Chris and Randy to be such great role models for all of us. Miss Val is someone that will be in my life forever. ❤

  1. Your sister, Jessie, is a member of the Western Michigan gymnastics team and is doing incredibly well. As club gymnasts, was it an advatange or a disadvantage of having a sister doing gymnastics with you?

SP: Jessie had a great year! As a club gymnast we were never on the same practice schedule or anything like that so it wasn’t necessarily an advantage or disadvantage. She stayed at DeVeaus when I went to train with Marvin and Bridget, so we haven’t really ever trained together to be honest.

  1. All the way back in 2008, you made the Olympic team but you injured your left ankle during training and were limited to just bars. How did you feel after this? Were you upset that you were limited or were you just happy to compete?

SP: I was extremely devastated. My practices were going so well and I had my routines on lock, so it was such a bummer for something like that to happen. Of course, it was still an honor to compete for USA and be on the team. I had to switch roles from being an all-arounder to a motivator for the rest of the girls because in my heart the most important thing Team USA. I really wanted an opportunity to compete beam because I never feel like I showed my full potential on that event in elite, but then again being able to hit my bar routine when the team needed me too even under those circumstances was a really rewarding feeling!

  1. What would your advice be to young gymnasts, aiming to be as successful as you?

SP: I would just tell young gymnasts to be passionate and always remember why you started. The road is never easy, but it is 100% worth it.

10.  Can we expect to see an elite return from you? Or has that ship well and truly sailed? 

SP: HAHA…..I mean maybe I’ll do a comeback…..JK. I’m really lucky to have the opportunity in college and compete for UCLA. I feel like it has completely prepared me for life after gymnastics and I’m ready for what the next chapter brings!

An article by James Greaves / editor-in-chief

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A little chat with Armenia’s Houry Gebeshian

Back in 2011, at the World Championships in Tokyo, Japan, Massachusetts resident and Iowa Hawkeye senior, Houry Gebeshian, made her senior international debut. Since then, she has graduated from the University of Iowa, became the third reserve for the London 2012 Olympics and has completed postgraduate study at Wake Forest School of Medicine; becoming a physician. After all this, you’d have thought she’d very content with her gymnastics career. But no! After getting back in shape for the 2015 elite season, she returned to prime at the 2015 Europeans where she finished 19th in the all-around final. Gebeshian has her heart set on a birth to Rio next year for the Olympics. Find out more about this amazing Armenian-American here as she answers nine questions we asked her;

  1. In 2011, you had your international debut at Worlds. What was that event like?

Competing on that stage was an incredible experience.  I spent every moment soaking it all in.  It took me a while to realize that I was competing in the same arena as the best gymnasts in the world.  Having been my first international competition, I did not know what to expect.  I had never competed on Gymnova equipment, never competed in an arena so big, and had only competed on a podium one time before at the NCAA Division I National Championships.  Stepping on that floor was overwhelming but I had to remind myself that all of those external factors did not matter.  I came to perform the 4 routines I had been training for months, and that was what I did. Unfortunately, I had to water down my routines due to a stress fracture in my heel that I developed a few weeks prior, so the actual competition didn’t go as well as I planned.

  1. You received a third reserve spot to the London 2012 Olympics. Was that disappointing? Or were you just thrilled to have made a reserve spot?

Receiving a third reserve spot to the London 2012 Olympic Games was both exciting and disappointing at the same time.  It was an honor to be given the opportunity to compete at the international level representing the Republic of Armenia. Due to injury, I did not compete up to the level that I was capable of, and that is what was most disappointing.  I was thrilled that I made a reserve spot, but I was upset with myself because I knew I could have performed better.  I believe that everything happens for a reason.  Being so close to qualifying motivates me to push myself beyond my perceived limits.  I am much more focused, determined, and confident that I will earn a qualification birth to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

  1. You had an amazing college career at the University of Iowa! How have your experiences as a Hawkeye, both in gymnastics and as a student, helped shape the person you are today? 

Thank you.  Being an Iowa Hawkeye was an honor and I am always proud to say that I am a University of Iowa Alumnus. My experiences as a Hawkeye helped me mature both as an athlete and as a woman. Joining the collegiate team immediately introduced me to a family of lifetime friends. They taught me how to work as a team member and also how to inspire others as a team leader.  As a gymnast, I learned mental toughness.  Competing in the all-around every weekend for 13 weeks is tough on the body and the mind but all worth it when you are able to share the individual and team successes with your GymHawk family. Being a student at the University of Iowa was challenging, especially choosing Athletic Training as my major, but it encouraged me to put 110% into everything I did in order to just keep up.  It taught me time management, resilience, and perseverance which has translated into my everyday life.  The four years I was at the University of Iowa were the best years of my life so far, and I owe a lot of thanks to everyone who helped shape me into the woman I am today.

  1. You had a four year hiatus from international gymnastics until 2015 Europeans. How long had you been training prior to this event?

After having not done gymnastics, or really anything athletic, for three years I decided to make my come back to gymnastics in July, 2014.  My ultimate goal was to be ready for the 2015 World Championships, but after talking with my coaches in Armenia, we decided that a competition before that qualifier might be good practice for me.  I trained hard for ten months and was competition ready for the European Championships.

  1. You placed 19th in the AA final; how pleased are you with this result?

I am incredibly pleased with my 19th finish in the All-Around final!  I have been working so hard the past few months and I feel that I finally was able to prove to myself, my team, and the rest of the world that I am a competitor and that I deserve to be on that floor.  Doing so well helped boost my confidence that the dedication and commitment I have put into training inside and outside the gym has been worth it and that I am on the right track to accomplishing my goals.  Hitting all of my routines during podium training and competition day at the European Championships was my goal going into the competition and competing in the finals was icing on the cake. It was an honor to make it into the final and compete with the best athletes in Europe.  To top it all off, I made history by becoming the first Armenian Woman to compete in a European Championship Final.  This is especially significant as this year marks the 100th year anniversary of the 1915 Armenian Genocide.  Competing at the elite level is my small contribution to our enduring culture that continues to defy the odds; I am proud to be a female Armenian gymnast.

  1. What other competitions will you be attending this year?

The next competition I will be competing at will be the 2015 World Championships. (in Glasgow, Scotland)

  1. If you were to earn a qualification birth to Rio 2016, what would it mean to you?

Earning a qualification birth to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games is the ultimate goal.  Looking back, I do not think I was ready or deserving of the Olympics in 2012. Since then, my perspective on life and gymnastics has changed drastically.  Over the last four years, I have reflected on my career as a gymnast and can now fully appreciate what it takes to become an Olympian.  I am much more mindful of the struggle and beauty of the sport.  Since 2012, I have overcome the depression of not qualifying and made the decision to return to the sport after a 3 years hiatus.  At first this was an extremely intimidating idea considering my age and the fact that I had to start my professional career as a physician assistant during my comeback.  I have had no formal coaching throughout this process which requires innovative methods in self-motivation and critique in order to coach myself to success. Creating my own strength and practice schedules, progressions, routines, nutrition plan, all while balancing my work life to fund my endeavors has been a fulfilling challenge.  I have always believed that nothing worthwhile comes easy.  This process has been one of the most difficult times in my life, but I am truly blessed to have this experience.  Competing at the upcoming Olympics will be the highlight of my gymnastics career.

  1. You recently graduated from graduate school in North Carolina. What are you future career plans following gymnastics?

I have actually not put my career on hold. I graduated with a Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Studies from Wake Forest University and have found a full time job working as a physician assistant. I work for the Cleveland Clinic in the Department of Surgery on the Labor and Delivery floor.  I simultaneously am a full time PA and a full time elite gymnast.  I also coach at the gym I am training at so following my gymnastics career, I hope to pick up more hours coaching alongside working at the Cleveland Clinic.

  1. What would your advice be to any young gymnasts who aspire to compete at the level you do?

The advice I have to young gymnasts aspiring to compete at the level I do is to not lose focus in their love of the sport.  My passion for gymnastics is what has kept me going and as long as you keep enjoying what you do every day, it will take you as far as you want to go.  I also encourage young gymnasts who share a similar desire for the sport to seek out a gym that embraces the same emotion for gymnastics. I started my career at Massachusetts Gymnastics Center in Waltham, Mass., matured my talents at the University of Iowa, and am now perfecting this art at Gymnastics World in Broadview Heights, Oh. All of these gyms were an excellent fit for me. Try and find a gym that fits your needs.  There will always be hard days, but disciplining yourself to get through the hard days will help you accomplish the goals you want to achieve. Always have confidence in yourself and have fun doing what you love.

It is clear that Houry has a love for the sport that she has never fallen out of! I am so excited to see her at Worlds this year and too see if she can punch her ticket to Rio next year, an event I will also be cheering her on for too!

An article by James Greaves / editor-in-chief

An Exclusive with Ariana Berlin

Chatty Gymnast caught up with former UCLA team member and recently turned stunt double, Ariana Berlin, as she prepares for the release of her biopic film, Full Out: The Ariana Berlin Movie. If you’re not aware with Ariana’s story, here it is; Berlin was an elite-level gymnast until 2001, when she and her mother, Susan, were involved in a car accident. Berlin was severly injured and was told that she would never do gymnastics again. After dabbling in street dance, becoming a member of Culture Shock, she then started to perform at SeaWorld San Diego where she met resident summer choreographer and UCLA Head coach, Valorie Kondos Field. Kondos Field admired her determination and philosophy on life and soon offered Berlin a walk-on spot for the UCLA Bruins gymnastics team. After a standout freshman year, in 2006, she was offered a full-ride scholarship and soon became one of the most successful UCLA Bruins gymnasts in history!

She answers some questions we had for her on the release of her film and how her accident has changed her perspective on life, in general.
CG: How do you feel doing gymnastics as a UCLA Bruin helped shape you as a person?

AB: Being a gymnast at UCLA has molded me into the person I am today in many ways.  It taught me that if you really want something, it will require blood, sweat and tears, but it is always worth it.  I’ve learned so much about myself, what makes me tick, how to overcome adversity, how to deal with others in a variety of situations, and how to be a part of something greater than myself.  Being a student-athlete is not easy, but it provides tools that you will use for the rest of your life.

CG:  How has your outlook on life differed since your accident?

AB: I live each day to the absolute fullest; there are no promises for tomorrow.  It helps me put things into perspective when I’m having a bad day and things just aren’t going my way.  I refer back to the accident and know, if I got through that, I can get through anything.

CG: Talking about the film, what can we expect from it?

AB: You can expect an extremely fun, energetic and uplifting inspirational comeback story that is relatable to anyone who has gone through adversity.

CG: Was it emotional for you to watch the filming and to see it all come together?

AB: It was extremely emotional.  I was onset during the entire month of filming and watching the story come to life was surreal.  The most emotional part was when my family visited set.  They were the ones that lived through the accident with my Mom and I and now, almost 14 years later we were reliving that moment in time through the filming process.  Also, at the screening in San Diego, all of my closest friends and family who supported me throughout the accident and recovery were there supporting the film.  That was very emotional.

CG: You did all your own stunts, right. How hard was it to get back into shape and get your skills back?

AB: It was very difficult getting back into shape.  Thankfully I had our assistant UCLA Gymnastics coach, Randy Lane help me with the process.  I trained with him about 3 days a week for a little over month before we began filming.  I was sore for weeks!!!  After the soreness dissipated, the skills came back fairly easily.  It’s all muscle memory.

CG: Was it hard to find the cast? How did you go about the process?

AB: Our Executive Producer, Jeff Deverett worked with a casting director in Toronto to find all of the talent.  I wasn’t able to attend the auditions, but Jeff sent me videos of the acting and dance auditions.  I wasn’t involved too much in the process, but I think they did an excellent job at casting each role.

CG: The majority of filming was shot in Canada, if I am correct. How come you didn’t stay local and film in LA?

AB: The main reason we shot in Canada was because our Executive Producer and Director are Canadian and we received great tax benefits.

CG:  Will the film ever be theatrically released? Have you been to any film festivals?

AB: We are in the distribution process right now.  We do have hopes for a theatrical release, but I do not know the specifics just yet.

CG: Describe, in three words, Full Out: The Ariana Berlin Movie!

AB: Never Give Up (that sounds so corny, but it is the essence of Full Out)

CG: What would your message be to anyone in a similar position to what you were in?

AB: My message is; ‘Life is not always a fairytale story with a fairytale ending.  There are bound to be challenges, but it’s how you choose to handle life’s challenges that defines who you are’.

Ariana’s story is the epitome of determination and hardwork and the film is going to be beautiful! It will capture the essence of what it means to be a gymnast and what it means to overcome anything and follow your dreams. And as is depicted in the movie, ‘sometimes you have to fall before you can fly’.

You can watch the trailer below;

An article by James Greaves, editor-in-chief