10.0 Spotlight - Kaelie Baer

Jan. 14, 2009

Freshman Kaelie Baer is the featured gymnast in 10.0 Spotlight, which will profile a member of the UCLA Gymnastics squad throughout the season. Baer, who hails from Columbus, IN, is a four-time Level 10 National qualifier and won the 2007 Level 10 national vault title. She competed on three events for the Bruins in the 2009 season opener, scoring 9.8 on vault, 9.775 on beam and 9.75 on floor.

You just had your first collegiate meet last Friday. What was that experience like, and how was it different than past competitions you've been in?

Our first meet was absolutely amazing. The team had so much energy and excitement going in that it just made the whole experience fun. I was nervous, of course, but with the team right there screaming and cheering, I didn't even notice the huge Utah crowd.

Competing for a team like we have is like nothing I have ever experienced before. I came from a pretty big Level 10 club team, so I have felt the sense of team before, but nothing compared to this. In college, it is all about the final team score, and we all have the same vision and goals. This competition had more excitement and fun than any I have been at before.

Talk about your first quarter at UCLA. Have you decided yet what to major in or what career you are looking to get into?
My first quarter here was a little harder than I think I had expected.I am far away from home and did not think I would get homesick, but I did. I had no doubts this is where I wanted to be, but adjusting to a completely different lifestyle just takes time. After I went home for Thanksgiving and came back, everything was much better. I feel settled in, and I am really excited about our season! As far as a major or a career, I do not know. I am taking a wide range of classes just to figure out what I like and what interests me.

What made you decide to attend UCLA?
I took visits to many other schools before looking at UCLA. Once I came here, everything just fell into place. I liked the other schools, but I loved UCLA. The coaches, the weather, and just the name UCLA itself are what stood out above all the rest.

What is your favorite thing to do in LA?
I love just discovering new places in LA because there is so much to do. I love going to Manhattan Beach or Malibu. The sunsets here are gorgeous. The shopping isn't too bad either. Ha.

How did you get started in gymnastics?
My family was able to get tickets to watch gymnastics at the 1996 Olympic Games. Before that time, I had always taken dance classes, but after I saw gymnastics, I begged my parents to put me in it.

You were competing as a junior national elite in 2003. What made you decide to return to Level 10?
I went elite for a while and had been home-schooled during that time and for several years before. I was at a gym that was over two hours away from my house, and after awhile I just looked at what my ultimate goal was. I decided my main goal was to get a college scholarship, and I knew that could still happen even with going back to Level 10. Since that was the goal, I was able to move to a gym that was only an hour away and go back to normal school and have a somewhat normal life.

What was your most memorable gymnastics moment?
Before last weekend, it was probably getting second at Nationals in `07. But after this last meet, I know there will be many memorable team moments that will beat that one out.

What other sport or activity would you participate in if you weren't doing gymnastics?
I grew up riding and showing horses, but if I would have had more time, I would have been showing horses every weekend. I was doing both for awhile until gymnastics started demanding more time. I made the choice that I can only do this once, and if I wanted to show horses I could do that the rest of my life.

What are your interests outside of gymnastics?
I love being around water, whether it's the ocean or my lake back home. I enjoy riding jet skis and boating. I also like watching football and basketball.

What is the best thing about being a Bruin?
The opportunities you get and people you get to meet. Each day I have so many opportunities I could never have had without coming here. It's always a great day to be a Bruin!

Lightning round
Favorite event to compete on?
I really like them all. I guess it depends on the day. Ha.

Favorite skill to compete?
Side somi on beam or a Hecht on bars

Favorite website?
ESPN.com because it tells me when games are on

Favorite book?
I Am Not But I Know I AM

Favorite singer/band/artist?
Hillsong United

Best movie you've seen recently?
Yes Man. I'm a huge Jim Carrey fan.

What are you addicted to?
I'm a huge fan of smoothies.

If you could trade places with any member of your team, who would it be and why?
It would be cool to be Ari or Tal so I could know how to dance like that. Ha ha.

Describe yourself in one word.
Random

Describe your team in one word.
Tough

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