LET'S FLIP OUT OVER: KYLA BRYANT EMERGING DAZZLINGLY VICTORIOUS IN NCAA GYMNASTICS
Posted on July 31 2022
Kyla Bryant is iconic. Most recently she was the recipient of the Stanford Spirit Award which is an award is presented to a charismatic student-athlete who excels at their sport and is an effective leader on and off the field. Furthermore, the student-athlete who wins this particular award is an exemplary teammate, active across campus and in the community, and embraces the values of Stanford University.
Her NCAA career highlights (as found on Bryant's athlete profile):
- AAI Award Nominee (2021)
- Pac-12 champion : floor (2021)
- WCGA Second-Team All-American : floor (2020)
- two-time All-Pac-12 Selection (2019-2020)
- Pac-12 Newcomer of the Week (2018)
- Pac-12 All-Academic Honorable Mention (2019)
She also has graduated with a degree in Science, Technology and Society.
Before Bryant began her NCAA career she secured many titles as junior. She was a two-time Junior Olympic National Team member (2015, 2016) and she won gold all-around, as well as first place finishes on bars and floor at the 2016 Junior Olympic National Championships.
Bryant is bubbly, authentic, and kind – her smile lights up a room and she brings a lot of joy to every endeavor. We were so excited to ask her some questions about her life.
What are some of your favorite childhood memories of gymnastics?
All I ever wanted from the time I started gymnastics was to be a collegiate gymnast. From the time I was about 7 years old I would spend weeks at big gymnastics camps and my parents would take me to major collegiate gymnastics meets. My favorite pastime was watching collegiate gymnasts perform – they just had such confidence and class and I wanted to embody that one day (and I am so glad to say that I have).
Why is exposure to gymnastics important? Do you believe basic gymnastics skills are essential life skills?
Gymnastics is the greatest sport in this world and is second to none with equipping young girls for life after gymnastics as well. If I wanted to reach my goals, I had to challenge myself and trust that the work would lead to the results I wanted. The sport taught me to strive resolutely towards my goals – I had to be the hardest worker in the gym, I had to be confident in my abilities, and I had to believe that I was capable. I know that the skills I learned in gymnastics (stretching, handstands, difficult skills, strength etc.) have allowed me to lead an amazing, healthy lifestyle (not to mention I have a lot of cool party tricks now too). It often feels like being a superhero!
What are some key takeaways from having participated in the sport competitively all these years? How will you apply these lessons learned in other aspects of your life?
After 21 years of this sensational sport, I’m finding out what I’m made of outside of sports – believe that those 21 years of work were not in vain. I AM tough. I AM intelligent. I AM a force to be reckoned with. I AM walking my path with purpose! These moments and lessons are not things of the past, these are life skills that have been solidified over many years just being applied in different ways now.
What makes a 'favorite practice leotard' a favorite? How should it make you feel, what important attributes must it have?
Oh my gosh, my favorite practice leotard was so comfortable! Not only did the material feel so smooth and light on my body but the neckline and back allowed me to feel like I had the most freedom! The fabric didn’t itch! It was my absolute favorite and wore it til my very last days of competing. I had that thing for at least 12 years!
When starting to design this look what did you have in mind? How does being in the design seat make you feel?
The best part about being in the design seat is the feeling of full creative autonomy. I wanted the design of this leo to be something that a gymnast would want to wear for as long as possible – I wanted it to be timeless, if you will.
What are your favorite attributes about the leo now that the design process is complete? What are your hopes that gymnastics-leotard shoppers will notice?
Everything about this leo is my favorite: the neckline, the colors, the rhinestones, everything! I wanted something that made every gymnast who purchases feel like the “it girl” in the gym. Everything on this leotard means something to me, particularly because of the incorporation of all my favorite colors – I really wanted to make this leotard shine.
Once you retire in gymnastics what sports or activities do you think you will want to try and spend more time on?
Gymnastics will always be my first love, but now that I am retired I’ve taken a liking to baseball (I’m learning the game and everything). It’s quite similar to gymnastics, in the way that it’s a game of precision and class.
As a serious athlete, what are 3 tips on how to get your mornings started right and 3 tips for how to get the best sleep?
I believe that every great morning starts with making your bed, followed by quiet time where I read my Bible or journal or listen to a podcast, and then a workout where I drink a protein shake right after. It’s the little wins that matter when getting your day started and getting the ball rolling on being productive. As to how I get the best sleep: I put the phone down, I put the white noise machine on, and I snuggle up in a blanket in a cool temperate room.
Have you ever coached gymnastics, do you plan on coaching ever, what do you think makes a great coach great? Any shoutouts to past or current coaches or memorable quotes from either mentors or coaches from your journey?
I love gymnastics. I love everything about the sport. I loved coaching at camps and I've coached club gymnastics for a bit too. I think that right now, I want to branch out from that wing and try something different. I think gymnastics has also taught me to get comfortable with getting your feathers ruffled and with seasons changing.
I think some of my biggest role models are my coaches, both club and college! I was coached by the best my entire career and I credit the entire Georgia Elite Gymnastics staff, Stanford Gymnastics staff, and a few in between with turning this wild firecracker into a dazzling firework. One of my favorite quotes by some coaches have been: “to shine like a diamond, you have to get cut like one" and "diamonds are made under pressure”. I also like: “demand excellence from yourself – exude confidence”, which I’ve heard from both my club coaches.
What are a few of your fondest memories from your time at Stanford Gymnastics? How do you feel your time as a collegiate athlete has benefited you the most?
This past year was the icing on the cake for my career at Stanford!
1. Beating UCLA this year, with my near perfect floor score to clench it.
2. Receiving my NCAA National trophy on the podium at NCAA —breaking the school record for highest floor score at NCAA nationals!
3. I received a 9.975 on beam at one of my last meets at Stanford, it was the week after my grandmother, whom I was very close to, passed away. I was in tears after that routine because all I could think of was her and it was a stunning routine. My nerves were gone and I was just cool as a cucumber, but I’d like to think she was my guardian angel that day.
I think my time as a collegiate athlete has helped me be ready for whatever life throws at me. I am tough as nails and I will work hard for the things I want. I also have learned to take each day as they come and not to worry because it can all be over so soon. Never wish a single day away and make the most of them.