When Geneva Thompson was competing for Metropolitan Gymnastics, her club team based in Kent, at the 2016 Nationals last year, the Puyallup High senior took a fall.
She fell hard.
At first it was off the uneven bars, and as soon as the nerves hit her, Thompson fell again during her floor routine. In one fell swoop, Thompson went from one of the top gymnastics recruits to one on shaky ground.
“I had to regain my confidence this year,” Thompson admitted. “I had to tell myself that I still had one more year.”
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That one more year is this season as Thompson has been a ball of fire on the gymnastics scene, earning a full scholarship to the University of Washington gymnastics program, which she made official Feb. 1 as part of National Signing Day.
“That was a big relief to earn that opportunity,” said Thompson, who will attend UW to study medicine with the hopes of becoming an obstetrician in the future. “UW was the school I wanted to go to all along.”
And UW always wanted her — even with a caveat.
Before Nationals last spring, Thompson had an offer from UW already in hand, but the school and program only offered the Puyallup senior a walk-on scholarship that had to be earned. The falls at Nationals hurt Thompson, sending her college future spiraling out and away from her.
“When she went there, she was in the top five and looked like she was going to be earning her full ride, but the falls had her drop from a top-five position down to No. 26 on recruiters’ lists,” said Paul Thompson, Geneva’s father.
It was a difficult time for Thompson last year, but throughout all of it, one question had always remained with the Viking.
How do you pick yourself back up?
“I thought to myself to not worry about what happened in the past, and get back on the beam or the bars and keep pushing myself,” Thompson said. “That was the biggest lesson I learned. Not to give up and keep going. I still had one more year — it was not the end for me.”
And pick herself up is exactly what Thompson has done.
That UW offer she held since her sophomore year was still there, but in swooped Oregon State gymnastics with a full-ride offer that had Thompson deeply considering the Beavers’ gymnastics program.
News travels fast in the Pac-12 and once UW got wind of OSU’s offer, the Huskies didn’t hesitate to finally pull the trigger on offering a full ride to the Puyallup gymnast.
“When Oregon State made me their offer, I was going to go there because they were going to pay for my college education. That was important to me,” Thompson said. “But after UW came in with a full-ride offer, I didn’t even hesitate to accept it. I always wanted to go to UW, so it was an easy choice.”
Now, with the weight of her college decision off her shoulders, Thompson can focus her attention to the obstacle from her past.
After a strong showing at the state gymnastics meet in February, Thompson is now gearing up for Regionals this week. If she finishes in the top six there, she will get her shot at redemption at Nationals.
“I more confident this year, and I know that will help me as I go to these tournaments,” Thompson said. “You can’t be afraid to make a mistake. You have to pick yourself up and get back on the bars and keep trying. That’s all you can do.”