Nazareth Academy senior Troy Mather of Hinsdale ends his high school days with a “dream come true” moment. Earlier in May, he competed at the 2014 Men’s Junior Olympic Championships in Long Beach, California. Among his “Level 10″ competitors in his age group, Mather finished in fourth place on the rings. He’s balanced this elite achievement along with success in the classroom at Nazareth, leading him to an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he will also compete in gymnastics.
“We are so very proud of Troy’s accomplishments,” Principal Deborah Tracy said. “Troy never seeks the limelight and yet has placed our school on the map with the Junior Olympic Program. His self-discipline, dedication and overall respectful and hard-working attitude will continue to carry him through his days at the U.S. Air Force Academy and beyond. We congratulate Troy and his parents on such an outstanding accomplishment.”
Q. Congratulations on your finish at the Junior Olympic Championships. What was it like to compete at the national level?
A. It was really exciting! I got to see gymnasts from all over the country who share a common goal. I did the best I have done this year on rings and finished fourth. The competition was insanely hard and came down to tenths of a point separating first and sixth. I was ecstatic with my place and finish to the season. Overall, the experience is something I will never forget and now I’m motivated to do well at the collegiate level.
Q. How long have you been competing as a gymnast? What lessons has the sport taught you that will help you in the future?
A. This is my 15th year doing gymnastics. It all started doing somersaults and cartwheels. I have learned so much from this sport — qualities like determination, discipline, teamwork and conquering fears on a daily basis. Every day is a challenge and forces me to push myself to my limits and take risks. This sport has added to my personality and allowed me to have fun while also keeping my eye on the prize.
Q. What are your post high school plans?
A. I will be doing gymnastics at the Air Force Academy. I am excited to be a part of something so important to our nation. I have a strong desire to fight for our country and knowing I will graduate college as a Second Lieutenant is extremely gratifying. I know this will not be easy, but I know it will be worth it in the end because this is what I have wanted for six years.
Q. What advice do you have for someone trying to balance high school and elite level athletic competition?
A. Make sure you know what you are working toward. What has motivated me is getting into the Air Force Academy and doing whatever I have to do to get there. I had to train my hardest in the gym and work really hard in school in order to get an appointment. I would have school, have four hours of practice, get home around 8:30 p.m. and then eat and get started on homework around 9:15 p.m.. Doing this every day gets tiring, but as long as you develop good habits and keep that goal in the back of your head then you will be able to manage both, while keeping sane.
Q. What is your favorite class or favorite subject at Nazareth? Favorite teacher?
A. It is a tie. My two favorite classes are math and CWI (Contemporary World Issues) because I feel like they are the most essential in my life today. I love learning about the contemporary world and I also love math. My favorite teachers are Mr. Drinan and Mr. Gonzalez. They both make class more about life lessons and they both teach me things beyond what the book teaches. This makes me eager to learn and want to know more. They make it fun!
Q. What is one thing someone wouldn’t expect to know about you?
A. People don’t know that I write music. I have been writing original compositions on the piano since I was 8 years old. I actually won an award among 900 people at a camp for my performance of a song I wrote. I come from very musical family with a mom who is a music teacher at Elmhurst and a sister who graduated University of Michigan with a violin performance degree. I love music and continue to write today.
Q. What is your favorite thing about Nazareth Academy?
A. That everyone can do what they love and everyone accepts what you do. If you are different, people here make it a positive thing rather than alienate you because of your differences. I love that I can be who I am and be encouraged in a heartwarming environment.
Q. What is your favorite sports team?
A. USA — all sports.
Q. What is the one website or social media site that you must visit every day?
Q. What is your favorite TV show?
A. “Spongebob Squarepants,” hands down.Tags: Nazareth Academy, Nazareth Academy Student Focus