For University of Wisconsin-Stout freshman Callie Counts, a Greenback School graduate, the biggest hurdle to overcome in the beginnings of her collegiate gymnastics career has been the distance it put between her and family.
"I've never been so far away from my family," she said. "That's definitely been my hardest thing to overcome."
Her collegiate career gave her a taste of home Saturday when UW-Stout took part in the Ozone Invitational at the Knoxville Civic Center.
"The coach told me my freshman year I would be competing in this meet," she said. "It was cool because I had been competing in this meet since I was 8 years old."
Counts overcame a slow start on the balance beam to finish 16th overall out of 50 collegiate competitors. She finished sixth on the vault with a score of 9.45, a collegiate high, and 11th on the floor with a score of 9.375.
UW-Stout finished fourth overall, but was first on the vault, with a score of 47.150, and second on the floor with a score of 46.975. UW-Stout's score in the vault for the event was a school record.
"We started off on the beam and it was a little rough," she said. "We came back strong on the floor and the bars and vault. I was really happy with my pull in the vault."
Count's participation in the event was at one time in some doubt.
"I had surgery right before I came to college, so I kind of had to relearn my strengths and stuff," she said. "I was kind of worried I wasn't going to be able to compete."
The freshman was able to overcome the injury and build her skills up in time for the event, which was special for the gymnast.
"I got to compete on my birthday, see all my family and friends and compete in my hometown," she said.