Student Spotlight: Naomi Skotnikov takes on Team USA rhythmic gymnastics

By Kaitlin Sides | Broadcast Reporter

In 2008, when Highland Park, Ill. freshman Naomi Skotnikov was just a toddler she started her gymnastics journey. Her pediatrician said she was in the lower percentile for coordination and recommended physical therapy. Instead, she joined rhythmic gymnastics. Now, she is ranked eighth nationally for rhythmic gymnastics after being part of the National Team since 2019.

Throughout her years as a gymnast she has learned to make time for gymnastics and to sacrifice certain things. Often when growing up, she didn’t have time for a Friday birthday party because she would have practice. This taught her time management skills she still uses today.

“On average, I would practice 26 hours a week. So I basically did not have a choice to procrastinate. The little bit of time that I had, I had to use it for work,” Skotnikov said.

Now as a freshman she is still working hard to continue training as a Team USA rhythmic gymnast as well as manage her class load.

“This October, I’ve been assigned to go to Amsterdam for a competition, and then in December I’m supposed to go to London for another competition, but we’ll see because I believe that’s on finals week,” Skotnikov said.

Skotnikov said the time she has spent with Team USA Gymnastics has inspired her to pursue a career in physical training at Baylor.

“They were really good about giving us exercises, not only to help us recover from injuries, but also to help prevent injuries. That was key,” Skotnikov said. “That’s what kept us all healthy throughout the season. And I was thinking, how useful they were what would happen if we didn’t have them.”

Naomi Skotnikov’s rhythmic gymnast coach, Olena Vitrychenko, has been coaching her for the last eight years and now continues her lessons with Skotnikov over 1,000 miles away.

“I’ve really developed a relationship with her. To this day, I still do Zoom private lessons with her in Russell Gymnasium. Just because she’s always so flexible and wants me to continue gymnastics,” Skotnikov said.

Vitrychenko moved to the United States from the Ukraine in 2014 and started to coach Skotnikov when she was a level five gymnast.

“When [the gymnasts] get older, they begin to show themselves more and begin to show feelings and begin to get to [a] very professional level,” Vitrychenko said. “So it’s very, very interesting contemporary fitness that they have a chance to work with now, how she grew up, how she [went] from [a] small girl to [a] beautiful young lady who can do beautiful rhythmic gymnastics.”

Kaitlin Sides is a junior journalism major. She is excited to be a part of the Lariat TV News staff as a broadcast reporter. In the future she hopes to work as a broadcast reporter in Charleston, South Carolina. When not working, she enjoys spending time with her friends and traveling to new places.