Senior's personality prompts career in gym
When watching senior gymnast Alyssa Lewandowski compete there is only one word that describes her attitude — ecstatic. Even in the tense situations, Lewandowski's smile never wavers. She is just happy to be able to show her skills.
From a young age, Lewandowski displayed her cheerful attitude to the extent that her grandparents felt she had too much energy. Like many other gymnasts, her over-active personality got her started in gymnastics.
"I had too much energy so my grandparents stuck me into gymnastics and told me to just play around," Lewandowski said.
Growing up, her energy focused on much more than gymnastics, playing volleyball and softball. However, those sports did not provoke the same passion as gymnastics.
"I loved gymnastics the most," Lewandowski said. "It was dangerous, but I had fun doing it."
When it came time to decide on what college she would attend, she originally chose Wisconsin-Oshkosh, but her heart was always at Rutgers. A Linden, N.J., native, Lewandowski had Rutgers in mind from a young age.
"I always wanted to come to Rutgers since I was a girl but I got recruited to Wisconsin-Oshkosh," Lewandowski said. "I didn't really like it out there because it was really farmy and boring out there. I'm just a city girl."
Upon arriving at Rutgers, she fully displayed her talent and attitude. After a successful first year at Rutgers in 2008, Lewandowski really began to shine in 2009. In her junior season, Lewandowski became eligible to compete at the EAGL Championships and recorded a 9.750 on vault.
This season, Lewandowski continued to grow, averaging impressive scores in two events. As a vaulter, Lewandowski maintained a 9.611 average, one of the highest on the team. However, it is her work as part of the floor exercise team that serves as her trademark.
"She is a consistent strong performer on both floor and vault," head coach Chrystal Chollet-Norton said. "She struggled in the past but she is really starting to come into her own."
Even in instances when a success is reliant on the floor exercise, Lewandowski still maintains her trademark smile. The more tense the situation, the more she seems to enjoy the moment.
"I'm always a little worried doing high level skills, but I always have fun out there," Lewandowski said. "It really takes away from the nervousness. "
Lewandowski's attitude serves her well in a sport that is both mentally intense and brutal on the body. In spite of injuries and stressful situations, Lewandowski simply recognizes her love for the sport.
"For a gymnast you need to have passion," Lewandowski said. "I love it all even though it's hard on the body."
After graduation, Lewandowski hopes to continue her life in gymnastics. After paying off student loans, Lewandowski wants to open a gym, potentially creating a generation of passionate gymnasts with broad smiles.
"I want to eventually open up my own gymnastics school and stay doing what I love," Lewandowski said.