Sickles senior ends career at top of gymnastics world
TAMPA - Tatianna Morehouse is just a senior at Sickles High School, but she’s already set to retire from her first career. A Level 10 gymnast at Victory Gymnastics, Morehouse has been training in gymnastics as long as she can remember. She has had four broken bones in each ankle and injuries too numerous to count, so she is walking away while she still can. Morehouse, who has achieved that rare Level 10 status, will make what is likely to be her final appearance in national regional qualifying in Jackson, Miss., this spring, and then that’s it. No regrets. “I’ve been so dedicated to this sport for such a long time that it is time to end it,” Morehouse said. “It’s been so much fun, but I take a lot of things seriously and I’ve given up a lot of time. I always want to be involved in gymnastics, but it’s time to move on.”Morehouse will take herself and her brain – she has a 5.7 weighted grade point average at Sickles – to Florida State University, where she will work toward a degree in sports medicine. A cheerleader at Sickles, she will do the same at Florida State. She won’t be the one flying through the air; she’s had enough of that. She will be one of the anchors on cheer drills and is looking forward to it. “I think cheerleading is a sport and I want to be a student-athlete,” Morehouse said. “I’d like to stay in gymnastics, but I am not sure I can handle another four years.” Morehouse can’t remember ever not being involved in gymnastics. Her mother was a gymnastics instructor and Morehouse got involved in the Talent Opportunity Program when she was about 7. She had talent and moved up the levels until she made the gigantic jump from Level 4 to Level 7. It is rare for a gymnast to leap over one level, let alone two. She made it all the way to Eastern Nationals, but she was hurting along the way. Any football player would cringe to find out that Morehouse broke her elbow. That might not sound like a big deal since all gymnasts suffer injuries, but this one was different. She had no idea her elbow was broken. She kept going on her regular schedule for four months before she was finally urged to check out what that nagging soreness was all about. She was told that she had been practicing with that broken elbow. In a sport where there is no such thing as a disabled list, Morehouse just ignored the injury and kept going, knowing the costs she would have to pay down the road. “I know that for the rest of my life my body will be a little bit messed up, but you just can’t take off,” Morehouse said. “Even one week makes you lose at least some of your skills and you can’t do that in gymnastics.” Morehouse said that the pain and the long hours are worth it, but only for someone who has the passion and determination to get ahead. Gymnastics can be fun, she said, but for the ones who want to get ahead, it requires taking the extra step. “I have had this passion since I was a little kid and it never went away,” Morehouse said. “I’ve been doing flips for as long as I can remember, but there have been some great things along the way. I have competed in different countries, met a lot of people, and done things I could never do without gymnastics. It’s tough, but I never complained because it means too much to me.” She said, even though she considers herself somewhat clumsy away from gymnastics, she feels different on the mats or the uneven bars, which are her specialty. The first-class gymnasts make it look easy, but Morehouse laughs at that. “It’s our job to make it look easy even though it is hard,” she said. “We try to entertain and make it look easy because that’s why we train, but if you know what goes into it, it’s really tough.” Morehouse said she is ready to retire and doesn’t want to look back with regrets, but when asked if she would ever let one of her children get into gymnastics somewhere down the road, she said she’d have no problem. Morehouse has coached at the Northwest YMCA and said she plans to stick around in the gymnastics world.
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