Former NCAA Gymnast for OSU, PE teacher and mother of two
What is your sport and why do you love it?
I was drawn to gymnastics at the age of 4. I saw it on television and tried doing gymnastics skills in my parents' living room. I was able to do back bends and flips off of the couch. Due to my build and height I was a natural fit for gymnastics. I did gymnastics for 18 years.
Tell me about your athletic history.
My career began at the Artistic School of Gymnastics & Ballet in Albany, Oregon. I remember feeling upset, because I couldn’t jump rope. I was pretty little. The coach took my hand and jumped with me. I still have the article in the paper that talked about my potential as a young gymnast.
My parents supported my gymnastics career and did everything they could to make my dream possible. When we moved to Portland, I did gymnastics. My parents wanted to become missionaries, so we moved to Texas for language school. They put me in a gym. We lived in Missouri for such a very brief time to attend Bible school, I did not do gymnastics there. We then moved to Mexico. They did not have gymnastics in the village where we lived. However, my Dad and Grandpa made me a beam before we left. We took it all the way down to Mexico so I would have some connection to gymnastics. After Mexico, we moved to California where I resumed gymnastics practice. We moved back to Albany my seventh grade year. I did gymnastics in Corvallis and Albany for several years. My career did not take off until I attended the National Academy of Artistic Gymnastics under Dan Alch. I am the gymnast I am today, because of him. (once a gymnast always a gymnast)
I was a walk-on my freshman year at Oregon State University. I received a scholarship to finish out my gymnastics career there. I am a proud alumni. Go Beavs!
List your top 5 athletic achievements so far in your life:
- I have a bars move named after me, the “Phillips.” It is a full-twisting back flip between the bars. I have seen this move performed at all levels from clubs to college, even at the Olympics.
- I received a perfect 10 at the Pac 10 Championships my senior year on bars.
- I was tied for fourth place in the nation on bars my senior year going into Regionals.
- Made Academic All-American my senior year at OSU.
- Contributed scores on vault and bars at Nationals my freshman year to solidify Oregon State’s 5th spot in the nation that year.
Who inspires or has inspired you?
My parents have been excellent role models demonstrating support and love continuously throughout my life. They sacrificed to put me through gymnastics. It was and is a very expensive sport! Most importantly, I appreciate how they give and invest in other people’s lives. My parents value people over material possessions and will drop everything to help a friend in need.
I also admire my sister. She trains for marathons. We did an obstacle race course together about a year ago and I about died!! I knew I needed to get in better cardiovascular shape. I jog every other day and work on leg and core strength every day.
Why did you want to participate in this Female Athlete Project?
The main reason I wanted to participate in this Female Athlete Project is to encourage others on their fitness and health journey. I also want to pass my values onto my son and daughter. I set goals last June and work daily to reach those goals. My daughter is great about holding me accountable for doing my exercises. I am not a morning person, so I end up doing all of my exercises at night before bed. My son has been joining me.
Why do you think it is important to keep active as we age?
Eighteen years of gymnastics and having two C-sections definitely took a toll on my body. I have a weak core which affects my back. If I didn’t exercise with the goal of being in the best shape I can be at age 44, I would be less motivated to get out of bed when in pain. As we get older, we tend to lose mobility. The more we use our muscles the better off we will be. Being active as we get older prevents injuries and will keep our bodies healthier.
Are you active in your sport?
Before Covid, I enjoyed coaching at PEGA in Corvallis. At the time, my daughter wanted to do gymnastics. A coaching position opened up. I hadn’t coached in years. I didn’t realize how much I missed the sport until I began coaching again. I am able to do some flips and tricks still, in spite of my body protesting.
What would you tell the younger version of yourself?
As a Christian, I would remind myself that God came to love and save the broke-hearted, not those who look like they have life all together. He loves us no matter what we do or how we feel about ourselves. I would also introduce myself to the concept of Kintsugi, the Japanese art of highlighting the broken pieces of pottery, representing scars, to make the piece more beautiful. The idea is to embrace flaws and imperfections. I need to remind myself of this importance even now. I have a perfectionist side of me that comes out. It can get the best of me if I am not careful.
What keeps you going?
I enjoy setting goals. Those goals keep me going, even when I am tired and do not feel like exercising. I do have a competitive streak in me and will not give up. My kids keep me going. I want to be able to keep up with them. My students keep me going. I am a PE teacher and want to be an example of a healthy adult who inspires them to be the best they can be.
Advice to other women about staying active as we age?
Start at a place where you feel comfortable and set small goals. Find an exercise that you enjoy. If that does not apply, find something you can tolerate. In order to help you reach your goals, invite a friend to join you. One of the things I miss most about gymnastics was the friendships I made while doing my sport. I do not have that now.
Best memories in your sport?
Best memories at OSU were hanging out with my team; we felt like one big family. I loved my coaches. Dick Foxal, I appreciate your love and dedication to the sport. Thank you for being a great bars coach! I am proud of the fact that I learned new skills in college and progressed each year. I will never forget the feeling after I landed and scored my perfect 10. The fans at Gill are so amazing!
What do you hope you never forget as you grow older?
I want to leave this world a better place. I will do that by encouraging others, not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually. I want to leave others feeling better about themselves.
Anything else you want to say about your experience with this project?
Katy, thank you for this opportunity to share my story. Sometimes we, as women, isolate ourselves and live in our own world. You brought us together and I know this project will impact others as well.