Most high school students are just trying to keep up with the demands of being a teenager these days – school, college planning, relationships with family and friends and maybe an extracurricular activity or two.
For incoming Priory sophomore Maia Amano, life looks a little different. Maia is a trampolinist and has her eyes set on her biggest goal yet – to make the 2024 U.S. Olympic team for women's gymnastics in trampoline. She's one step closer after returning home from the 2018 USA Gymnastics Championships, July 3-8, in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Maia had an impressive showing at the event. She placed third in individual and mini trampoline and fifth in synchronized trampoline, along with teammate Kayttie Nakamura. After the awards ceremony, Maia received great news – she'd made the USA Gymnastics Junior National team in trampoline and double mini trampoline.
"Making the USA Junior National team for the first time was one of Maia's goals for the 2018 trampoline season," Maia's mom, Robin, said. "Every goal she achieves brings her one step closer to her dream of making the 2024 Olympic team. She understands that her willingness to learn new skills and knowing that there is always room for improvement will hopefully help her achieve her goal."
"Making the Junior National team has always been a major goal of mine," Maia said. "After barely missing my chance last year, being named to both the trampoline and double mini team this year was just unreal."
After returning home, Maia received more good news that she and her two teammates were also named to the 2018 World Age Group Competition (WAGC) – another first for Maia. The Hawai'i girls fill three of four available slots in their 15-16 Junior Elite age group.
Grit at its finest
The 14-year-old works tirelessly to keep her dream alive. The sport has taken her to more countries and states than most adults – soon to be 15 – and her practice schedule is like a part-time job – taking up 18 hours each week. She trains with teammates at Hawaii Academy with her coach, Max Vercruyssen.
Maia still manages to spend time with friends at school and teammates at Hawaii Academy. She also will serve as the vice president of the sophomore class student council this school year. Her unique schedule requires Maia to be incredibly organized and practice effective communication with her teachers. Despite everything on her plate, Maia is a straight A student and a Queen Emma Merit Scholarship recipient.
"The Priory administration and teachers are awesome," Robin says. "They've always supported Maia and encouraged her to do well in both school and sport. Our family knows not all schools are flexible in this way. This helps to relieve some of the anxiety while we are away and is much appreciated."
It's a family affair
Maia is often escorted on her trips by her supportive parents – Robin and Robin – who also double as her personal cheering squad. Mom and dad understand the mental grit and perseverance Maia puts forth at competitions. Her routines take hours of practice over months and even years, and they are over in less than a minute.
"It's always a bit nerve-racking for us when we watch her compete," Robin says. "I feel like we hold our breath during the entire routine and then finally feel relieved when Maia salutes the judges and gets off the trampoline. We feel this way at every meet, as do the other parents we've met over the years."
Maia has been involved in the sport since she was 9 years old. She started out in artistic gymnastics but when the program dissolved, she joined the trampoline program. Soon after, her talent shone through when she moved from level five to 10 in her first year. Six years and countless trips through the air, Maia still loves jumping on the trampoline.
Most recently, Maia traveled with her mom to Tokyo to compete in the 3rd Morichan International Trampoline Cup and the 30th Machida International Friendship Competition August 9-13. Maia and her teammates won the international team cup at the Morichan event and Maia placed second in the individual trampoline event.
"This was my first trip to Japan and I hope to return very soon," Maia said. "It's always fun traveling to different countries and meeting athletes from different parts of the world."
Up next on her travel itinerary is St. Petersburg, Russia, where she will be representing the United States in the WAGC in November. Each opportunity and mile logged into her passport brings Maia one step closer to her ultimate goal.