'The best I have ever worked with:' Century sophomore Ryssman becoming a top gymnast in the country
Abbi Ryssman recently won a USA gymnastics developmental national title on the beam in Oklahoma City, competing against the top gymnasts in the country in her division.
ROCHESTER — Even though Abbi Ryssman was just five years old, it didn’t take long for Daniel Nelson to realize she had that something.
The head coach at Jets Gymnastics noticed how the little Ryssman tackled the biggest obstacles with tenacity and determination few had, while paying attention to the smallest aspects of the sport, even though she was just truly perfecting how to read.
“I just knew there was something special right away,” Nelson said. “She had an attention to detail and just wanted to make everything perfect and took the time to do everything. The things that were hard, she liked and the things that were easy she liked, so I knew that she was gifted right from the beginning.”
The daughter of two former Brigham Young University gymnasts, it seems Ryssman was destined to be a gymnast. In fact, it didn’t take her long either to realize she could go somewhere in the sport.
"When I was about nine, I was like, ‘Oh, I'm actually pretty good at this,'" Ryssman said. “And I saw all the gymnasts on TV, preparing for the Olympics. And I thought, 'wow, that's really cool. I want to be like that. I want to do stuff like that' and then I watched the college gymnasts and they just look like they're having so much fun out there. And I thought, I want that too.”
The Century sophomore is well on her way toward that goal.
She is a part of the United States Gymnastics National Development Program, recently winning the program’s national title on the balance beam in the women’s Junior D Team and Individual division during Mother Day’s weekend in Oklahoma City. Ryssman laid down a 9.700, edging Dynamo, Oklahoma, native Haley Masturi, who finished with a 9.675, before winning the all-around title. Ryssman also tied for fourth in the all-around (38.475), thanks to a sixth-place finish on bars.
According to Nelson, the national title on beam is one of the sport’s highest honors. The championships are the top seven gymnasts in a given division from each of the eight regions of the country. Ryssman placed first out of 57 of the country’s top gymnasts in her division.
It was a finish that surprised even Ryssman.
“Right away I didn't think I would win because it was my first event and there are a lot of really good gymnasts there and high scores,” Ryssman said. “I was kind of watching the scoreboard throughout the meet and then when they called you in the back, they gave you a look at a paper before you got your medal. And I saw that my name was first on board and I was just kind of in shock. You know, I was like, 'wow, I can’t believe I just did that.' And it was definitely, I was feeling very happy about it and kind of just like reflecting back on all the hard work that I've put in and it was definitely very joyful because I knew that everything I put in was worth it. And that all worked out.”
There certainly has been plenty of hard work.
She practices for four hours, five times a week at Jets, while attending various competitions across the country on the weekends.
She has had that routine since the sixth grade.
It’s all been well worth it.
Sporting a mental toughness that she credits her parents and her four brothers for helping with, Ryssman has become one of the best in the country on the beam. The latest evidence came just two weeks ago in Oklahoma.
“I love the challenges and the rewards that come after the challenges,” Ryssman said. “There are a lot of challenges and no one else can fix them for you. You just have to power through it and figure it out. And when you do figure it out, it's really rewarding.”
She is beginning to stake a claim of becoming one of the best gymnasts to ever come out of Rochester.
“She's certainly the best — my favorite event is beam — she’s certainly the best on the beam that I've ever worked with,” Nelson said. “Her ability to just be mentally strong and to keep dancing and doing the elements back to back, without any hesitation, is really the thing that sets her apart from everybody else. …
“She has a handy rhythm, which really sets her apart. She's just like a graceful bird up there. Really smooth and you know, a lot of gymnasts struggle with hesitations or being funky. For her, it's just like a dance up there. And that's what's so special about it as she gets up there. It's really something quite special.”
That’s something many colleges saw first-hand two weeks ago. It should be the start of a competitive recruiting process to secure Ryssman's talents.
“She will have quite the parade of colleges trying to get her to come to their school,” Nelson said.
For the time being though, Ryssman will continue to train at Jets, before heading to Texas to train with the national team’s staff, which trains the Olympians and the highest level of gymnasts in the country.
She is the first from Jets Gymnastics to be invited.
“I will just keep working as hard as I can,” Ryssman said. “Just go in every day and try to work as hard as I can to improve myself as much as I can."