SAN JOSE, CALIF. — The numbers are daunting.
USA Gymnastics reports more than 90,000 competing athletes. To be a female gymnast with dreams of being an Olympian means you are either very optimistic, very unrealistic or perhaps a bit of both.
Emily Schild was born in Fort Wayne in 1998. She was just two when her mother, Maria, enrolled her in a Mommy and Me class at DeVeau’s gym in Fishers. No doubt she was just a beginner tumbler who could look across the gym and aspire to be Sam Peszek.
Peszek, a UCLA and Cathedral High School graduate, was part of the USA Women’s Team that won silver in Beijing in 2008. Peszek trained at DeVeau’s while Schild was just getting started. At the same time, Peszek’s eventual Olympic teammate Bridget Sloan trained on the northwest side at Sharp’s gym.
It was quite the story, two elite gymnasts from Indianapolis, developed at competing gyms. Of course, they came together once a month to train at the Karolyi Ranch north of Houston, where national team coordinator Martha Karolyi aimed to create consistent coaching and a unified direction for the sport.
None of that was on Schild’s radar, however. She believed she, too, could be an Olympic gymnast with roots in Indiana. She kept working her way up through the levels with an eye on being an elite gymnast.
After five years at DeVeau’s, Schild’s family moved to North Carolina. There, she kept up with her training and watched the American women in 2008 and 2012, winning team silver then gold.
Her work to wear red, white and blue was rewarded in 2015. Schild was named to the USA Gymnastics Women’s National Team and represented her country at the Pan-American Games, where the women won team gold.
Her scores and degree of difficulty of her routines right now, while impressive, mean she isn’t a serious contender for the Rio Games. Schild, 17, says that’s okay. She wants to do her best this weekend at Olympic Trials in San Jose. She knows just getting this far is an eye of the needle proposition.
Schild has committed to the University of Georgia and says Olympic dreams do happen. She is one of the top 14 female gymnasts in the America. By those numbers, she’s already overachieved.