CROWN POINT — Crown Point senior Shannon Harrison was always doing flips and and hanging around on the park's monkey bars.
Harrison's grandma noticed this, along with Harrison's already-toned physique, and talked to Crown Point coach Ami Pysh, who went to the same church. Not soon after, Harrison had her start in the Bulldog Gymnastics Club at the recreational level before moving on to a higher level.
"My grandma always talked about how much I loved to flip around, how I was always out on the monkey bars and how I was 'super buff' as she put it," Harrison said. "She talked with coach about getting me into club and that's where I got my start."
"When she was little on our club, I told her mom, 'She is just so strong,'" Pysh added. "She's always been a lean, muscular kid and you can see all these rippling muscles. She's been like that since she was a little girl and has showed potential. I encouraged her parents to take her somewhere to get hours of training (club) and it's gone full circle. She started with us in Bulldog Club, we sent her on her way and now she's back where she started."
The senior has been the top all-arounder for the team all season. Her season-high is a 36.875, good for 14th statewide and she recently finished sixth at the Duneland Conference Championship meet.
"She's a really clean gymnast. She has good form and is really light on her feet," Pysh said. "She's excelling on floor the most and she has a really clean vault. Her bars are really good too, especially with how much more toned and stronger she is. I'd say floor is her best and where she has the best potential in placing. If we don't advance as a team, hopefully Shannon can advance as an all-arounder."
Harrison's battled a slew of injuries on the way, including a stress fracture that kept her out all of her sophomore year, as well as a concussion suffered on beam as a freshman. The switch to high school has been a welcomed one for Harrison.
"Those injuries made me realize the stress on my body. I felt like it was wearing down on me," she said. "There's more stress in general with club, high school is more fun. There's more recognition at your school and around the community. I think I've learned to enjoy the sport a lot more than I used to. It was something I just did and now I've realized how quick the sport is going for me and want to enjoy every bit of it."
The aforementioned strength has always been Harrison's fallback, but it was a process to gain it back.
"All of last season I wasn't my strongest," she said. "My arms were collapsing on the bar. I was super weak and I couldn't figure out why. I had blood work done and found out I had really low iron. Now, I just take iron supplements and I've gained it back.
"I've always been a little ball of muscle. It's the genetics because my mom's super strong too, our muscles are very defined. If I'm off mentally, my strength is something I can rely on to get me through routines."
Harrison was a club state champ on beam, but admits she's lacked confidence in it since the concussion. She says floor is her strongest event now, while bars is her favorite stemming from her days on the monkey bars.
She was fifth on floor at last year's regional and has the fourth highest score in the state with a 9.65 this season.
"You can't fall off the floor," she said. "I like on floor I can show off my dancing and the skills in my routine. I'm hoping to make it to state in all-around, but if it was just one event, I'd say floor. I haven't banked on the all-around but that would be amazing. I do want to make it through postseason, so I'm aiming for that and I'm working on getting some new skills."