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02/09/2022 11:00 PM

Dean Thrives in Every Event for the Tigers

Senior Paige Dean is a solid point scorer in all four events for the Hand girls’ gymnastics team. Photo courtesy of Paige Dean

Paige Dean has always been a high-energy person, and she’s used her energetic nature to succeed as an athlete. Now a senior in high school, Paige is succeeding as an all-arounder for the Hand girls’ gymnastics team.

Paige has been participating in gymnastics for the past 10 years. Paige tried several sports as a youngster, but ultimately found her passion on the mats.

“When I was 7, I had tried a lot of sports and none of them really stuck with me. I had a lot of energy and was always moving. This led me into gymnastics,” says Paige. “With all of my energy I had, I would basically just flip myself around our backyard. Every time you looked at me, no matter where I was, I would be doing cartwheels, handstands, and forward rolls.”

Paige has learned a plethora of life lessons throughout her decade as a gymnast. The sport has helped Paige become a better person, while giving her motivation to accomplish anything that she puts her mind to.

“I’ve learned so much like determination, courage, dedication, motivation, and perseverance. These aspects have really been able to shape me into the person I am today and the drive I have for things not even related to gymnastics, like school,” Paige says. “These life lessons have really taught me how to get through difficult situations. I also really enjoy the individual aspect of the sport and wanting to outperform myself each time. I also love the team aspect I get from the sport.”

The Hand gymnastics team has a record of 7-0 this season, and Paige recently returned to the Tigers’ lineup after dealing with an injury. Paige, who has earned All-State First Team honors during her career, participates in all four events for Hand by doing the vault, beam, bars, and floor. This week, Paige and her teammates are competing at the SCC Championship.

“This year, we have a strong team with lots of talent, as well as potential, and we may have a chance at winning SCCs and maybe even state,” says Paige. “Of course, this is not a guarantee at all, and things change all the time, but given our record of 7-0 so far this season, our outlook for being SCC champs and possibly even state champs are looking hopeful. I am not saying that this is a given at all, but it definitely would be cool to come home champs for one of these meets.”

Head Coach Kelly Smith describes Paige as one of the most talented gymnasts that she’s ever coached. Smith says that Paige does a great job of focusing on the finer points of the sport and is always learning from her mistakes.

“Paige does the most beautiful gymnastics. She really pays attention to detail, from the tips of her fingers through the point in her toes,” Smith says. “Her jumps are exquisite not only in their form, but in their height and amplitude. And with her attention to detail, that includes making sure her body is in the positions it needs to be to be consistent in nailing her skills. This is especially important to us as a team on an event like beam, where we can count on her for a calm, clean, and hit beam set.”

Paige is performing a new bar routine this season. Coach Smith has raised the difficulty level for the routine, giving Paige an opportunity to post a higher score for the event.

“Paige is competing on a new bar routine with some added difficulty, which has made a great impact in her score and our team score and, unlike many new skills that are a work in progress, her giants are beautiful,” says Smith. “This clean and consistent gymnastics is what really sets her apart on this team.”

Paige is focused on executing all of her events to the best of ability as Hand enters the postseason. Prior competing to any event, Paige always performs a ritual that helps her get into a state of zen.

“Before every event, I close my eyes and visualize my entire routine and do everything perfectly in my routine right before I compete. As I am visualizing, I also move my arms to match with where I am in the routine,” Paige says. “This has helped me to focus on my event and calm myself down before I go and compete.”