This is a printer-friendly version of an article from

03/16/2022 12:00 AM

Cika Enjoys a Great Junior Campaign on the Gymnastics Mat

Kendra Cika had a successful season with the Valley girls’ gymnastics team that saw the junior qualify for the State Open in the vault. Photo courtesy of Kendra Cika

Kendra Cika started competing in gymnastics when she was just three years old. While she partook in several different sports throughout her childhood, Kendra eventually returned to gymnastics at age 11 and is now a member of the girls’ gymnastics team at Valley Regional High School.

Kendra recently finished her junior season with the Valley gymnastics squad. Kendra just can’t get enough of the sport and loves spending time on the mats with her fellow Warriors.

“I have been competing for Valley gymnastics for all three years of high school, but I have been doing the sport for five years with my club team,” says Kendra. “My mother put me in gymnastics when I was really young, and I ended up switching sports, but I ended up returning because I really loved to watch gymnastics, and I would try to do skills in my basement using pillows and yoga mats. Eventually, I started taking lessons at Flip-Flop Gymnastics, and I’ve been there ever since.”

Kendra turned in a strong season for the Warriors in 2022. The junior posted a score of 8.45 on the vault at the Class S State Championship, after which she competed among Connecticut’s best gymnasts in the State Open. Kendra finished in 25th place by scoring an 8.375 on vault at the Open, capping off a great campaign in a sport that she loves.

“My favorite aspect about gymnastics is a little cliché, but I love flying through the air. You ask any gymnast, they’ll say the same. It’s just something so few people experience, but it’s so much fun,” Kendra says. “My favorite moment happened this season when I found out that I made State Opens. This was one of my goals I made for this season. When I found out, it made me feel like I had something to show for my work.”

Head Coach Monica Bauer describes Kendra as an athlete on whom everyone the Valley gymnastics squad can depend upon. Coach Bauer was most impressed with Kendra’s ability to consistently improve throughout the recent season.

“Toward the end of the season, Kendra was able to upgrade some of her skills to gain a higher start value. She had a good season this year and was one of the top 40 athletes in the state for vault,” says Bauer. “Kendra had to make a tough decision whether to go on a trip or compete at State Opens, and she chose to compete. By doing so, she showed her dedication to the sport and her school. Kendra has competed on the Valley team for three years and has grown as an athlete and a role model for the underclass athletes.”

Kendra says she wouldn’t be the gymnast that she is today without Coach Bauer. Kendra and Bauer have worked together for several years at Flip-Flop. Kendra knows that she can always go to Bauer whenever she needs advice, and she also appreciates the support of Valley Assistant Coach Carl Cavrell.

“Monica really cares for her athletes,” Kendra says. “Flip-Flop Gymnastics really promotes a fun safe environment. She and all the other coaches are really great and help their athletes foster a love for the sport. Both Monica and Carl are just amazing coaches, and me and my team are so glad to have them.”

Prior to the start of every season, Kendra establishes her goals. Kendra’s constantly looking for ways to improve and is dedicated to having her best campaign yet as a senior in 2023.

“Before each season, I write down my goals for the competition season and skills I’d like to start working for next season. I’m open with my coaches, and me and my teammates push each other to be better,” Kendra says. “I try not to let myself ever be satisfied with where I am with my skills. I’m always trying to get better be stronger and score higher.”

In addition to gymnastics, Kendra also competes for the girls’ soccer team and the golf squad at Valley Regional. She is also a member of the Valley ski club.

“I love skiing. I also really like going golfing with my friends or my dad at the driving range,” says Kendra. “I like to go for runs and gardening and anything outside. One of my favorite things is watching sunset with my friends.”

On the heels of a solid 2022 season, Kendra is looking forward to her senior year with Valley gymnastics. Kendra feels proud about the way the Warriors finished their campaign and feels confident that they can fare even better next season.

“We started out the season with a few gymnasts injured, but we were able to come back and qualify for states. That’s something Valley gymnastics hasn’t done for over four years,” Kendra says. “Looking forward to next year, we’re getting some really strong underclassmen athletes, and our team over the years has grown stronger and more advanced. My freshman year, there were only underclassmen, so this is the first year we have seniors. They really built this team, and I’m so grateful for them and exited for the future.”