In 16-plus years writing for ThisWeek, I rarely have interviewed and written about a high school freshman athlete.

In 16-plus years writing for ThisWeek, I rarely have interviewed and written about a high school freshman athlete.

Only occasionally does a young athlete splash onto the central Ohio sports scene as a swimmer, ferociously knock around a tennis ball or, as Upper Arlington ninth-grader Rebecca Jaskot has done, capture the attention of the gymnastics followers throughout our area.

Entering the latter stages of January, Jaskot had one of the highest scores locally on the uneven bars, balance beam, floor exercise and in all-around competition.

Getting to know this UA standout was a refreshing and fun experience for me.

"It seems like gymnastics has been part of my life forever," Jaskot said. "I guess I was a hyper kid in kindergarten and my mom put me in a school gymnastics program at Greensview Elementary and I really liked it and before long was flipping around everywhere.

"Eventually, I wound up at Universal Gymnastics and it was then that I knew this sport was for me and I progressed pretty well. My club gymnastics experience has been great, but now I get to represent my school and I love being a Golden Bear athlete. My brother, Phil, was on the UA football and baseball teams and my sister, Marissa, was in swimming and water polo, so I feel proud to keep the family tradition going.

"Being part of this high school team is really fun and things are so upbeat and the skills you have to do to be successful aren't quite as hard as club, so there is a little less pressure. I am really enjoying this time."

Talking about her abilities as a gymnast, Jaskot said, "I guess what helps me first is that I am a perfectionist. When I learn a new skill, I won't use it until I think I have perfected it. I get complimented on my form and the fundamental way that I keep my legs tight and have pointed toes, but I do get frustrated when I can't reach the level I want to get to and keep trying by telling myself that I am going to accomplish this. And when I do conquer a skill, it makes my day a ton better.

"Like a lot of young athletes in my sport, I think I lack confidence at times and when that happens I have learned to simply take a breath and let my brain take over and let my body do what it can do. This whole experience has helped me in every aspect of my life because sometimes when I put myself down because I can't reach my goals in a certain gymnastics event, I learn how to cope with that adversity and I try to relax so I can get through those challenges. ... That is pretty much the way life works also, and so my sport is helping me grow every day."

If she continues to develop, Jaskot will be one of the contenders at the district meet. She looks forward to that challenge.

"What I absolutely love about my sport is learning new skills and then displaying them in competition," she said.

"When you learn new things they never become old. I know I will have down days because I think gymnastics is a very hard sport, but what a great feeling I get when I do something that is amazing to me and I think that just maybe no one else can do that but me."

With her exuberance and talent, Jaskot's future looks golden. It was so much fun for me to get to meet someone who is truly on the way up.

I'll see you at a meet.

Larry Larson is a former athletics director at Grandview High School. He can be heard as "Mr. High School Sports" on WTVN 610 AM.