Being… Lindsay Onuffer

The very definition of “on the go.”

Warren Area High School senior Lindsay Onuffer has been a gymnast pretty much from the time she could walk.

Oh, and she’s played Little League, youth basketball and soccer, learned ballet, been a swimmer and diver, and is a hurdler in track (her mom thinks this might be her best sport).

She’s always on the move; right now, in fact, she’s at Lycoming College for Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week to learn what it’s like to run your own business.

Whatever adventure Onuffer encounters next, she’ll do it happily – with a smile on her face.

“She has always been happy and bubbly,” said her mother, Emily, also one of her gymnastics coaches.

Lindsay was so active as an infant, “we knew she had to be in some kind of activity to keep her moving,” said Emily.

Which has, in turn, kept her parents on the go.

“You only have them for a short time,” said Emily. “I didn’t want to miss any opportunities.”

Gymnastics, and high school, may be coming to an end, but Lindsay plans to make the most of it.

“It is very rare that you would ever see me not smiling or laughing,” she said.

Whatever’s next could be any number of things to keep her busy.

A little “Q & A” with Lindsay Onuffer:

Q: Who are your parents, siblings, and what sports do you play?

A: My parents are Steven and Emily Onuffer, my brother is Nathan Onuffer, and I play soccer, run track, and do gymnastics.

Q: You are unique in that you are constantly involved in sports… I understand you play soccer in the fall, swim/dive in the winter, and run track in the spring, while being involved in gymnastics for months out of the year; do you still participate in all of these, and how do you or have you managed the time?

A: I don’t participate in diving anymore because I didn’t enjoy it as much as the other sports I am involved with. Rather than diving in the winter I play in an indoor soccer league at the Lakewood (N.Y.) YMCA.

For soccer and track, I have practices after school and then normally I hop in the car and head over to gymnastics practice immediately after. So, for example, a normal day in soccer season would be to go to school, then go to soccer practice from 3:45 to 6, then go to gymnastics from 6-8:30. That doesn’t even include game days. If I have a game on a Saturday I usually go to gymnastics practice first and then to my game. When I don’t have a soccer game on a Saturday I am usually at a gymnastics competition.

It is really hard to manage time! I’m practically never home. I have to eat dinner on the road or in the gym almost every night and I usually am just home to sleep, but I love playing the sports so it’s worth giving up to the time.

Gymnastics is an all-year sport, with competition season starting in September and finishing with a National Competition the last week of June. You have to qualify to compete at the National Competition. We never stop practicing. You can’t perfect a back handspring on beam and then take six months off.

During the summer the coaches usually schedule six weeks off, but not all six weeks in a row. We will practice three weeks in June, then two weeks in July and one week at the beginning of August. Then every year in mid-August we have a week-long mandatory camp. This is great fun because you get to make up your new routines.

Q: What do you like about every sport you have participated in?

A: In gymnastics I like to conquer new skills and just practice to make my routines perfect. I’m kind of a perfectionist to that matter. Gymnastics is all about the small things. They can deduct for anything (like not pointing your feet or a slightly bent arm) so I really have to practice to be earn a score good enough to get a medal, and who doesn’t love winning?

Soccer, on the other hand, is a completely different story. Even though we really try, we don’t win much. That is okay, though, because our team has such a strong bond that no matter if we are winning or losing it is always so much fun. Our coaches are really fun to joke around with, too.

In track, I compete in the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles and I really love to push myself to get personal records. I made a new personal record at almost every track meet this year and it feels so good because the hard work from training pays off. I qualified to go to districts in both events my freshman and sophomore years. This past year I really focused on the 100m hurdles and had new PR of 16.9 seconds.

Q: What are your best memories or highlights of every sport you are involved in?

A: My best memory in gymnastics is going to nationals in Savannah, Georgia, and placing. I placed 6th on bars and beam, and 9th on vault.

In soccer, the best highlight was when we beat Harbor Creek my sophomore year. It was a game that nobody expected us to win, which made it so much better when we did.

For track, I have so many great memories but a few are when I took first on the 100 hurdles at the all-county invitational and then placing at districts my freshman, sophomore, and junior years.

Q: Is being so well-rounded something you are proud of… and how much of that has to do with gymnastics, and why?

A: I am very proud of being an all-around athlete. I think that it has a lot to do with gymnastics. I never played soccer or any other sport until I was in middle school and then when I started I was pretty good at most of the things that I did, and I think that gymnasts can be pretty good at any sport they play because our training is so hard and targets every area of the body.

Q: When did you first know you were in love with gymnastics?

A: I don’t ever remember not being in love with gymnastics. My dad was a gymnastics coach when I was born so as soon as I was old enough I was put in classes. I guess when I started competing on the gymnastics team at age 7 was when I really started the love for the sport.

Q: How special is it that your mother is a coach?

A: It’s really special to me that my mom is my coach. She understands me and how I learn so she really helps to teach me. Also in gymnastics it is very important to trust your coach because of all the crazy stunts we throw, and since she is my mom I trust her very much. When we go to competitions the parents have to sit on the bleachers, but since my mom is a coach she is allowed to be on the floor with me and that really helps to give me a confidence boost.

Q: What are your goals for your senior year?

A: For my senior year I hope to make it to nationals one last time for gymnastics. For track I just want to keep on breaking my personal records. And in soccer I want to keep the light spirit of the sport in our team and be a good role model for under classmen.

Q: How long do you envision being involved in gymnastics or any sport, for that matter?

A: I wish I could do gymnastics forever, but after my senior year I will probably end my career. There are very few colleges that have a gymnastics program. I have been looking in to running track at college but I am not fully committed yet. Also I don’t believe I will play soccer any longer.

Q: What are your dreams for the future? In the immediate future, do you have plans for college? And, in the long term, what is your dream job or location?

A: After high school I am planning on attending college. I don’t know where yet but I want to get a business degree and work at McKissock here in Warren.

Q: Who is your inspiration and why?

A: I have two very important people who have inspired me: my grandmas, Kaye Onuffer and Corky Merrill. They both lived a great life by always seeing the good in people and they always had a smile on their face. That is how I want to live my life in no matter what I do. Whether it be sports or not.

Q: Tell me in a few words how you would best describe your personality?

A: I would say I am a very outgoing girl. It is very rare that you would ever see me not smiling or laughing. I love to talk to anyone. And I love to make people smile.

Q: Tell me one question I forgot to ask, and then answer it.

A: One question you forgot to ask is who has impacted my gymnastics the most. Brian See is the best head coach I have ever had. He knows how to talk to us and help us. He is willing to help with anything, even if it is not related to gymnastics. At one point in my gymnastics career I almost lost the love for the sport but then Brian stepped up as head coach and brought all the fun back into it. He really is one of the best people I’ve ever met.