Athlete Spotlight: Natalie Green & Jordan Sekafetz

Two seniors look back at their years of competitive gymnastics, focusing on how the sport affected their lives


Courtesy of Natalie Green and Jordan Sekafetz

Natalie Green ‘21 and Jordan Sekafetz ‘21 posing on a beam during their senior year of gymnastics.

Julianne Berry-Stoelzle, Executive & Sports Editor

Both Natalie Green ‘21 and Jordan Sekafetz ‘21 have been participating in gymnastics for the majority of their lives. Now, with the end of their last year of competitive gymnastics in sight, they reflect on what they have experienced and learned along the way.

“I am definitely sad. It’s been a big part of my life forever,and so it’s definitely gonna be weird to be done with it, but it’s taught me a lot of great things and it’s made me the person I am today,” Sekafetz said.

Sekafetz first got into gymnastics when she was six years old, and then started competing competitively when she joined Iowa Gymnast around the age of nine.

“My family has always done gymnastics. All my aunts did it, my dad used to take tumbling classes, and my aunt actually owns a gym up in Cedar Rapids,” Sekafetz said. “It’s always been a big part of our family.”

Green did not start gymnastics until the age of eight. She played soccer beforehand, but decided to try gymnastics after going to multiple birthday parties at the Iowa Gym-Nest. 

“It’s so different than every other sport I’ve tried. It’s addicting to be honest,” Green said. “Sometimes it’s a little rough, but it’s definitely challenging and I think that’s what drew me to it.”

The four events for women’s gymnastics are vault, uneven bars, floor and beam. Each of these requires its own routine.

“I’m a floor person. I love anything that involves twisting on floor, like a double twist,” Green said. “The variety of everything [is great]. There’s four different events so there’s always going to be something that you like and there’s always going to be something you don’t.”

During the summer, they focus on learning new skills, which is Green’s favorite part of gymnastics since it is a lot less repetitive than practicing routines. According to Sekafetz, this is  one of the hardest parts of gymnastics.

“It’s definitely terrifying, especially the older you get, you realize that you can definitely get hurt. But it’s kind of like one of those things once you do it the first time, you get it over with,” Sekafetz said. “Learning new skills is hard, like mentally and physically just getting yourself to do it.”

Throughout this season, Sekafetz is continuously running through the routines she has already learned to stay prepared for the coming meets as well as working on half twist on floor, which consists of a roundoff, back handspring, and backflip with a half twist.

“Gymnastics really brings you to push yourself and also [to] just trust yourself, that you’re gonna be fine, you’re gonna land, you’re not going to hurt yourself, and that that floor isn’t going to move. It’ll still be there when you’re landing,” Sekafetz said.

This mental aspect of gymnastics has also stood out to Green.

“Mental toughness is a really big [part of] the sport because you can get in your head a lot and you can get mental blocks on skills. Working through those is not fun but once you’re on the other side you feel really good,” Green said. “This sport is something that you don’t do unless you’re a little crazy.”

Besides hard work and determination, gymnastics has also reminded Sekafetz to be in the present.

“Especially now, it’s taught me to enjoy the moment, because it does go by really fast,” Sekafetz said. “I personally feel like gymnastics is a fast-paced sport, and it has just gone by really quickly so just like enjoying every moment you get with people [is important].”

Next year, both Sekafetz and Green will be starting college, leaving competitive gymnastics behind them, at least for the foreseeable future.

“I think every now and then I’ll do a handstand or a cartwheel or something, but I don’t plan on competing in college or doing rec in college. Maybe I’ll coach. I would like [gymnastics] to stay in my life, but I don’t really know [if it will],” Green said.

With this year’s gymnastics season starting late and having limited meets due to COVID, Green does not feel like the season is drawing to a close.

“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet, but I know when it does that I’m going to be really sad. I don’t think I’m quite ready to leave yet because I’ve been on this team for like six or seven years now and it’s been pretty much my whole life. I’ll be sad when the time does come,” Green said. “I’m gonna miss it. That’s for sure.”