Criminology and Criminal Justice Undergrad Heads to World Championships with Olympic Berth on the Line
Jessica Stevens ’24 starts out steadily. One bounce. Two. Three. Then suddenly, she rockets into a triple flip, two stories in the air, and springs back up into a dizzying series of tucks and twists, forward and backward, like Tigger unleashed—but with perfectly pointed toes.
This isn’t playtime on a backyard trampoline. The University of Maryland senior is one of the world’s top athletes in trampoline gymnastics. She won two gold medals (in the individual and synchronized events) at last week’s Pan-American Games in Santiago, Chile, and is heading to the World Trampoline Championships in Birmingham, England, opening Thursday, where she hopes to place in the top eight and qualify the United States for a berth at the 2024 Olympic Games in July.
It’s not a leap: Last year, she came in sixth—the best result for an American since 2005 in a heavily Chinese- and Russian-dominated sport—and second in the team all-around.
“I’m really proud of where I am right now,” Stevens said. “I really want to get to the Olympics, but you also have to enjoy the journey.”
Trampoline gymnastics, an Olympic event since 2000, is a separate discipline from better-known artistic gymnastics (which includes balance beam, uneven bars, vault and a floor routine). Trampoline athletes are judged on how well they can execute 10 skills during a roughly one-minute routine as they reach heights of 15 feet or more, flipping and twisting while trying to stay centered.
“I love the feeling of flying,” said Stevens. “It’s so peaceful up in the air.”
Read more of Karen Shih's article in Maryland Today. The photo of trampoline gymnast Jessica Stevens '24, left, and Nicole Ahsinger, flipping through the air during their gold medal-winning synchronized routine at the Pan Am Games in Santiago, Chile, on Nov. 4 is provided by USA Gymnastics.