|Full Name Ashley Breanna Smith |
|Birthday April 11, 1998|
|Hometown Waycross, Georgia |
|Residence St. Augustine, Florida||
|Siblings Molly, Annie, Jack and John|
|School St. John's Virtual School|
|Grade 12th (2016-2017), Class of 2017||Hobbies Drawing and interior design|
Ashley Breanna Smith was born on April 11, 1998, in Savannah, GA to Dawn and Windell Smith. Ashley is the third of five children, with two older sisters, two younger brothers, and an abundance of furry friends. Currently, Ashley is a straight A student at Florida Virtual School, is involved with church, enjoys volunteering at the local animal shelters, trying to help those less fortunate than herself. Ashley also enjoys volunteering some of her time working with younger aspiring gymnasts at Champion’s Gymnastics on her weekend’s home, as her schedule allows.
Ashley began gymnastics at an older age of eight in Waycross, GA, at Southeastern Elite Gymnastics, where she showed owner Deanna Brown "the most natural talent for Gymnastics in an untrained child.” Ashley’s composure on beam would capture the attention of many as she demonstrated an undeniable focus and untrained artistic presence.
Ashley's untapped gift for Gymnastics would propel her to seek TOPs training at the nearest gym to her home at Starlight Gymnastics, in Jacksonville, FL, where she would spend the next two years driving the 3 hour daily round-trip. The grueling commuting schedule forced Ashley to school virtually through Georgia Cyber Academy during her sixth through eighth grade years, diligently doing her schoolwork in the car via a mobile hotspot and computer. Despite being 10 years old, Ashley successfully qualified and competed in TOPs that year, finishing as the highest scoring competitor in her gym at Starlight and credits the program for helping her enhance her strength and flexibility for her remaining Gymnastics career.
During Ashley's time at Starlight Gymnastics in Jacksonville, FL her Waycross community followed her growing accolades. One famous Waycross resident would become a central figure in Ashley's pursuit of gymnastic Gold. Fred Martinez served the sport of Gymnastics for over 60 years, as competitor and coach. Fred Martinez (USAG Hall of Fame) became known to Ashley as Mr. Fred, where they became mutual admirers, and ultimately, friends for life.
Mr. Fred Martinez came to Waycross to work with Southeastern Elite Gymnastics. Fred was inducted into the N.A.I.A. Coaches Hall of Fame in 1980, and in 200, became a member of Northwestern University’s Hall of Fame as a coach and developer of the University’s Gymnastics Program. He is currently a nominee to be inducted into the NCAA Hall of Fame for gymnastics. Fred was central in the development of the national AAU gymnastics program for youth. He coached in the 1964 Olympic Games held in Tokyo, Japan, and the 1968 Olympic Games held in Mexico City, Mexico. Mr. Martinez continued to have students participate in every Olympic Games thru 1974. Through his teaching, he influenced generations of children in gymnastics and in life. One of those children would become Ashley. The most important aspect of Fred’s life was his love and trust for the Lord, believing God gave him a gift and he wanted to use that gift to give back to as many people as he could. Mr. Fred’s love of the sport inspired him to watch Ashley and later compelled him to offer to work with her to teach her what he called “body mechanics.” For the remaining year of Mr. Fred's life, Ashley would work with Mr. Fred on body mechanics, body shapes, and transference of momentum skills in her morning hours in Waycross, while traveling to attend gym at night in Jacksonville, Florida. Those basic foundation skills that Mr. Fred had only just begun to emphasize in Ashley’s gymnastics paid off at level 7 optionals that season, where Ashley would make a clean sweep of the Gold Medals and become Florida State Champion as a Georgia resident!
In 2011, Ashley swept the gold medals as a level 7 gymnast that season, placing first in every optional level 7 meet with an all-around of 38.40 at the FL State Competition to capture the USAG Florida State Championships on ALL 4 events! Her State championship performance qualified her as one of the top eight gymnasts in Florida, securing her a prestigious spot to represent Florida on Team Florida at Regionals in Tupelo, MS. Ashley soared at regionals, leading the evening with a 9.700 bar routine, which held most of the night, until she had to accept a 2nd place Silver to a 9.80 ; 2nd on vault with a 9.600; 9.550 on floor ; and 9.45 on beam, finishing at midnight with a 2nd place AA Regional Champion win for Team Florida. Following regionals, Ashley spent two weeks at the University of Georgia's Gym Dog Camp with Mr. Fred, who loved volunteering for camp there every year. Sadly, shortly upon their return, Ashley would lose her friend and "teacher, Mr. Fred, unexpectedly, as he passed away upon their return in the Summer of 2011. Mr. Fred’s unexpected passing created a void that would force another gym move upon Ashley, as she sought to achieve what they began together.
Feeling the need for a change of scenery, and hearing the whispers of her old friend about her potential to go elite someday, her family agreed to give Ashley the opportunity to train at renowned Orlando Metro Gymnastics under Jeff Wood for her 2012 level 8 season. Orlando was much further. Ashley and her mother would now have the difficult sacrifice living away from her family during the week, while traveling back home on weekends. An undiagnosed overuse injury would ultimately keep Ashley out of most of level 8 season. However, through Ashley's characteristic steadfast approach of quiet acceptance, resilience, patience, and determination, Ashley captured Gold again, delivering three amazing first place performances on uneven bars, balance beam, and floor at USAG Level 8 Florida State Championships, assisting her Orlando Metro level 8 team, and capturing the title of Florida State Lev 8 Beam, Bars, and Floor Champion. The toll of being away from her family was becoming more difficult amidst a large family, as her sisters became older, and her younger brothers needed her mom. Ashley had heard her former coach, Valentin Ivanov was opening his own gym in Jacksonville, FL, one within reasonable driving distance from home (only 1.5 hrs away!). So once again, Ashley and her family decided to prioritize home, and moved to train with Mr. V, Valentin Ivanov, at his new gym, Champion's Gymnastics in Jacksonville, Florida.
In December of 2013 competitive, right before her level 9 season, a freak landing on a broken floor spring during her last tumbling pass would force her to once again miss many meets of the upcoming season. Ashley never gave up. With an undefeated will and her quiet conviction she has become known for, Ashley sought the assistance of her former gym in Waycross, GA, and strategically scored out of level 9 at the final GA meet before State, scoring a respectable 35.10, at her only level 9 meet! Now she could pursue level 10 training without losing more time.
A job transfer in the Spring of 2013 would move Ashley and her family to Saint John's, FL, ultimately moving Ashley to Brandy Johnson's Gymnastics Academy in Clermont, FL to train under coaches Brandy Johnson-Sharpf and Kelly Pitzen for her first Level 10 season. Ashley lives with a host family during the week, going home on weekends. Ashley is a quiet, focused girl, who acknowledges this kind of sacrifice is difficult and not for everyone, noting that she is so very grateful for the positive people in her life who have supported her and enabled her to have this opportunity to train in the sport of Gymnastics and reach her goals.
In 2015, Ashley placed second on uneven bars and third in the all-around at the Parkettes Invitational. At the Buckeye Classic, she placed first on uneven bars and in the all-around with a 37.175. Ashley placed fifth in the all-around and fourth on floor exercise at the Presidential Classic. She did really well at the Presidential Classic where she placed third in the all-around with a 37.525 and first on floor exercise. At the State Championships, Ashley placed first on uneven bars and third on balance beam and floor exercise, for a fourth AA, concluding her second Lev 10 season at the Region 8 Championships.
Ashley finished fourth in the all-around and first on uneven bars at the 2016 State Championships. At the Region 8 Championships, she placed eighth in the all-around and fourth on floor exercise. She qualified to the Junior Olympic Nationals in Ft. Worth, TX. After the season, she moved to TNT Gymnastics in Jacksonville, FL to be closer to her family.
Currently, Ashley continues training 25 hours per week for the 2016 season as a level 10 gymnast at TNT Gymnastics in Jacksonville, FL under coaches Devon Greenmun and Denise Weaver. Ashley is excited to confirm that she has verbally committed to attend the University of Iowa on a full athletic scholarship upon her graduation in 2017, where she will pursue a degree in Psychology.
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