DYER | Don't let Emma Speck's size fool you. She is very strong.
But don't take our word for it. Ask Hayley Butcher.
"Not only is Emma very flexible, but she has a lot of strength for her age," Butcher said of the Highland 8-year-old. "That's important in trampoline and tumbling."
Butcher may know what she's talking about. At the U.S. Trampoline and Tumbling National Championships last summer, Butcher won a senior-level gold medal in tumbling after recovering from a gruesome knee injury.
Butcher also coaches trampoline and tumbling at Midwest Training and Ice Center. She has been working with Emma for three years, and when Emma recently became eligible to try out for the USA Gymnastics 2014 JumpStart National Team, Butcher encouraged Emma to "jump" at the opportunity.
"We had the state JumpStart testing here (at Midwest) last October, and Emma made the cut," Butcher said. "That advanced her to the national testing in Huntsville, Texas (Jan. 11-12), and that's where she made the JumpStart National Team in both trampoline and tumbling."
The JumpStart program was founded by USA Gymnastics in efforts to discover and cultivate Olympic and world championship potential at a young age. Out of a little more than 30 young athletes selected to the team, Emma is one of three from Indiana.
"As a member of the team, Emma will train at the Olympic Training Center (in Huntsville) in March," Butcher said.
For Emma, her first trip to Huntsville was her first-ever trip to Texas.
"I liked it down there," said Emma, who has attained a Level 7 rating in trampoline and a Level 6 rating in tumbling.
"I like them both the same," Emma said of trampoline and tumbling. "I don't have a favorite."