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Katie Ihns is a 17-year-old senior at Byron High School and is a captain on the varsity gymnastics team. She began in gymnastics at age 7 and became good enough to qualify for the high school state tournament as a seventh-grader. But she hasn't returned. A back injury from a car accident has hampered her since the eighth grade. Katie grew up in Byron but spent her junior year at Blaine High School; she has moved back to Byron for her senior year.

P-B: Gymnastics looks like a dangerous sport. Is it?

K.I.: I think it's not extreme, I don't consider it dangerous. But it's punishing. You do get injured and you get sore and every day something else is going to hurt.

P-B: What poster or posters are hanging on your bedroom wall right now?

K.I.: Actually I don't have any posters on my bedroom wall right now because I just moved back here.

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P-B: Tell us about the crowds at your high school gymnastics meets.

K.I.: We have a lot of support from our parents. Some of our classmates come to them, but then a lot don't. I like it when we have more of a crowd, but it really doesn't have any affect on the competition.

P-B: You have your own cell phone and we suspect you're not the only teen-ager. Are those gadgets now as common as calculators among the high school kids you know?

K.I.: Yes, everybody has one. I've had mine since the eighth grade; it was a Christmas present. I think the initial reason was to make it easier for my parents to keep track of me.

P-B: What's your advice to parents who are considering introducing their child to gymnastics?

K.I.: It's a good sport and it's especially a lot of fun when you're younger, just bouncing around on the mats. But to get good at it you've got to be really committed. It's real hard work and if you're not excited about it after a while it can get to be a frustrating pattern of going to practice every night. If you're debating, you should look at what else is going on in your child's life and decide if they really have the time or interest to make that commitment.

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