Winning ways for gymnast, singer

Kelsey Crawford’s interests are making 2014 a winning year for the sixth-grader at St. Paul School in Weirton, where she maintains a 4.0 average in the gifted program.

Her passion for competition singing and dancing, for example, has landed her a trip in August to a four-day workshop featuring acting, singing and dancing with Broadway stars and working professionals.

And her penchant for competitive gymnastics found her winning the Level 7 Pennsylvania State USA Gymnastics championship for age 11 during the March 23 event held at the Community College of Beaver County’s Athletics and Event Center in Monaca, Pa.

The two honors keep the daughter of Michael and Karen Crawford of Weirton busy and focused on new experiences.

Crawford competed this spring in “Future of Talent” hosted by Triple Threat Talent Tour in Oneonta, N.Y., and judged by Broadway stars and New York city casting directors. She was awarded the best vocalist, ages 12 and under, and was nominated the “Future of Talent” and given a full scholarship to a four-day workshop in New York City come Aug. 2-5. She also was awarded a private coaching by a casting agent from Telsey and Company.

Crawford performed an acting piece, “Coat Hanger Sculpture,” winning first runner-up and third overall; an open song to “Concrete Angel,” winning first runner-up; and sang “Quiet” from Matilda, winning top vocalist.

The panel of judges included Broadway star Amy Spanger; Broadway choreographer Chantal Robson; Broadway and television star and film producer James Patrick Moran; Chase Renouf of Clear Talent Group talent agency in New York City; and Patrick Goodwin, casting director from Telsey + Company in New York City, who chose Crawford as the one he wanted to coach.

The judges chose Kelsey as the “Future of Talent” winner, which earned her the scholarship to the later-this-summer workshop called Triple Threat Talent Tour’s the New York Experience. In addition to acting, singing and dancing with Broadway stars and working professionals, she’ll attend a performance of “Wicked” and have an opportunity to meet the cast.

Accompanying her to the workshop and “Wicked” performance will be her sister Sydney, who was second runner-up in her acting, singing and dancing solos at the “Future of Talent” event.

Crawford began gymnastics when she was 2 and by 7 was being encouraged to pursue competitive gymnastics. She began her USA Gymnastics competitive career as a level 4 gymnast, during that time placing second at the Pennsylvania State Championship at both level 4 and 5.

Her move to level 7 would ultimately lead her to find a home at Gymsport, in Bridgeville, Pa., where she flourished during her spring and summer training of 25 hours a week but then hit some rough spots, including suffering a wrist sprain twice in a four-month period.

In mid-December, Crawford was cleared to resume gymnastics full time and just one month later was competing at the Erie Stars and Stripes meet where she won first on floor, beam and vault and fourth on bars. She was 1st All Around with a 36.475. Following that meet, Crawford was successful at other meets, but her biggest achievement was the state meet that attracted qualifying competitors from throughout Pennsylvania. She competed in the 11-year-old category, winning the USAG Level 7 state championship title with a 37.450. She also placed second on vault, third on beam, fourth on floor and fifth on bars.

The state meet consisted of two separate sessions of 11-year-olds. Crawford’s session consisted of two groups – her group of 18 girls and a second group of 19 girls. Crawford not only took first place in her group but outscored all girls who participated in the session, beating 36 girls. Crawford’s training five days a week consists of flexibility training, strength and conditioning, mental training to overcome fears and maintain focus and perfect skills on vault, beam, bars and floor.

Crawford, who thinks gymnastics is fun and challenging despite the discipline and hard work it requires, is training for level 8-and-up skills for level 9. Her immediate goal is to perfect her level 8 skills in hopes that a successful 2014-15 season will qualify her for Pennsylvania Level 8 regionals.