UCLA gymnast Sophina DeJesus innovation

Gymnastics is a fairly traditional sport, with an emphasis on grace and athleticism. It’s rare to deviate from the accepted format, but that’s exactly what UCLA’s Sophina DeJesus is doing by performing routines to hip-hop, with non-traditional moves that match. DeJesus has been honing this type of performance in practice, only recently displaying her routine to the general public. The first time she performed a hip-hop floor routine was in February, 2016, and the results for the worldwide audience were stunning: it’s been viewed 40 million times in total across YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Vine. It even got attention from mainstream celebrities with Reese Witherspoon giving DeJesus a shout out on Twitter.

Despite this kind of performance going against the traditions of gymnastics, DeJesus has an encouraging coach. Valorie Kondos Field has been the head coach of UCLA Gymnastics for 26 years, and notes that the sport is now more than ever about entertainment. So what better way to accomplish that than to use modern music and the attitude to go along with it?

DeJesus is much more than a hip-hop gimmick, and a truly accomplished gymnastic athlete. Her career highlights include being a 2009 U.S. National Team Member, two-time All-American on bars, and three-time USA Championships competitor. Despite all the gymnastics accomplishments, DeJesus maintains that her future will be as a professional dancer, which seems to be a true passion. Without a doubt, she will bring top level athleticism and innovation to that genre as well.

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