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updated: 4/25/2014 7:24 PM

Gymnast jumps at chance to become a trainer

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  • Photo courtesy of NIU AthleticsNorthern Illinois all-around gymnast Kim Gotlund, a Warren High School grad, finished her career with several school records.

      Photo courtesy of NIU AthleticsNorthern Illinois all-around gymnast Kim Gotlund, a Warren High School grad, finished her career with several school records.

  • Photo courtesy of NIU AthleticsKim Gotlund

      Photo courtesy of NIU AthleticsKim Gotlund

  • Photo courtesy of NIU AthleticsNorthern Illinois all-around gymnast Kim Gotlund, a Warren High School grad, finished her career with several school records.

      Photo courtesy of NIU AthleticsNorthern Illinois all-around gymnast Kim Gotlund, a Warren High School grad, finished her career with several school records.

 
 

Thankfully, Kim Gotlund hasn't spent a ton of time in the training room.

But the one time the Northern Illinois gymnast faced some major rehab, she was so impressed with the trainers that she decided she wanted to become one, too.

Gotlund, a standout gymnast at Warren High School in Gurnee, will earn her degree in pre-physical therapy next month at NIU with a 3.80 grade-point average. She then will attend physical therapy classes next fall at the University of Minnesota.

"Gymnastics is pretty tough on your body, and I needed elbow surgery in eighth grade because of all the wear and tear. That sparked an interest in physical therapy. I even took some athletic training classes at Warren," Gotlund said. "I just remembered how amazed I was at how I went from not being able to move my elbow to doing gymnastics two months later.

"The trainers did a great job, and I want to be able to help other people do that."

The trainers at Northern Illinois kept Gotlund in top shape. Besides being slowed by two bum ankles her freshman year, Gotlund was a warrior. She competed in every meet for Northern over her final three years.

More impressive, she competed in every event over those three years. Gotlund is one of those rare collegiate gymnasts who spent her entire career as an all-arounder.

And Gotlund wasn't just getting by on fumes. She will leave Northern as one of its most accomplished gymnasts. She made her second appearance in the NCAA regionals this winter and is a two-time all-MAC selection, one of only three NIU gymnasts to earn such a distinction. She also set multiple NIU records.

"There are all-arounders at every school, but it is probably pretty rare for someone to (be an all-arounder) for almost their entire career, just because of how hard gymnastics can be on your body," Gotlund said. "Most people pick one or two events by their junior year."

Gotlund enjoyed the variety of all four events (uneven bars, vault, balance beam and floor), but she did have a favorite.

"I really loved floor," she said. "That's where you can really show your personality. I also think it's the most fun. But every event is so different and I really liked that part of being an all-arounder. I also liked being able to compete as much as I could to help the team."

Over her four years, Gotlund helped transform the NIU program from an afterthought to a serious contender in the MAC. The Huskies finished in last place in the conference her freshman year and placed fourth this season.

"I loved being part of a team. I think that's why I competed for my high school team at Warren," Gotlund said. "A lot of high school kids just do club, but I wanted that team atmosphere, and it really prepared me for college."

Of course, Gotlund had been preparing for college long before that. She got her start in gymnastics at age 4 and she was competing at 7.

"I just love the sport," she said. "I don't think it's really hit me that my career is over. It's hard, but I'm excited to do new things.

"I've also thought about doing some coaching or judging while I'm going to school in Minnesota. I think I'll always be around (gymnastics) somehow."

pbabcock@dailyherald.com

• Follow Patricia on Twitter@babcockmcgraw.

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