When Connor Lewis was just 2 years old, his mother decided to enroll him in classes at Buckeye Gymnastics in Westerville.
Amy Lewis was an instructor at the club and wanted to introduce her son to the sport while also strengthening their bond.
Those early classes did much more than that. They sparked a successful gymnastics career for Lewis, who is completing his freshman year at Stanford University.
"It is amazing that his physical ability has given him the opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime academic experience," his mother said. "We have always stressed a balance between school and gymnastics."
Lewis, who graduated from Grove City High School in 2016, fought through an ankle injury this season with the Cardinal but showed promise, according to coach Thom Glielmi.
"He's very easy to work with, so we're very happy to have him," Glielmi said. "He definitely stood out at the Junior Olympics, so that's always a good sign to us. Those kids who are pushing to making the junior national team are generally goal-oriented kids and that carries over into their academics, and they're usually a good fit for us. Athletically, he definitely has some strengths."
The 5-foot-5 Lewis suffered a high left-ankle sprain while practicing on vault in February and missed most of the second half of the season before returning for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Conference championships in April.
He finished 15th of 21 competitors on vault (14.25).
The Cardinal entered the postseason ranked second in the conference and in the country behind Oklahoma.
Stanford finished second in the conference and fourth in the NCAA national championships, which were held April 21 and 22 in West Point, New York. Oklahoma won its sixth consecutive conference championship and third consecutive national title.
Lewis was an alternate in five of six events in the NCAA meet but did not compete. He said his favorite event is floor exercise.
"I'm pretty happy," Lewis said. "About halfway through (the season) I injured my ankle, so I wasn't able to compete the whole year. But the first half of the year went pretty well, so I was happy about that."
Lewis left Buckeye Gymnastics and joined Integrity Gymnastics in Plain City at age 6 since Buckeye did not have a structured boys program.
At Integrity, he received coaching from Blaine Wilson and Nyika White. Wilson, who owns the club, is a three-time Olympian in men's gymnastics.
Lewis' love for the sport blossomed while at Integrity, leading to the dream of competing collegiately.
He remained with Integrity through high school and said he will return to the club to train during the college offseason. He and White talked frequently during his freshman season.
"Once you're a member of Integrity Gymnastics you're always a member of Integrity Gymnastics," White said. "It's a big family that we have there. All of our college students that go away, whenever they're back for the summer they come and train or at least come and say hi. Some even coach a little bit."
Lewis was a six-time Junior Olympics national qualifier, two-time P&G national qualifier, five-time state champion and four-time academic All-American while at Integrity.
"He was already pretty well on his way when I got there," said White, who joined Integrity in 2010. "He was easily one of the best athletes in the country even at that young age. He was always a hard worker. You never had to ask him to take turns. It was never like, 'let's get this done. Let's get that done.' It was always, 'Connor, you have to slow down, you have to pace yourself.' "
Lewis credits his experience at Integrity for his development in the sport.
"Since I've been there for so long the coaches are great and they helped me get to where I am now," he said. "We really formed a great bond with each other. Nyika and I have a great relationship. He knows what I need and he can provide that for me."
Lewis considered attending Ohio State and Illinois, which also have strong gymnastics programs, but decided on Stanford. The Cardinal won their fifth national championship in 2011.
He is undeclared on his major, but is considering civil engineering. He finished at Grove City with a 4.2 GPA and had a 3.5 GPA at Stanford as he prepared to take finals the week of June 12.
"The educational aspect was pretty awesome and the group of guys on the team was just perfect," Lewis said of Stanford. "It's the perfect balance between education and gymnastics because we were (ranked) second all year and education is pretty awesome here as well. ... I'm very happy. This is a perfect fit."