Despite her countless injuries, Payton Dailey’s devotion to both gymnastics and diving is inspiring

Avery Jordan

More stories from Avery Jordan


Time and time again, freshman Payton Dailey has proved her dedication and tolerance for two sports that she will forever love: gymnastics and diving. 

Payton has justified her commitment to gymnastics through the shocking amount of bones she has broken; she has broken bones in eleven different places throughout her years of being a competitive gymnast. She has devoted the vast majority of her life to training at the gym and is proudly apart of the R-Athletics competitive team. Her practices take place every day from 3:30-8:30, and she never grows sick of it—even after a lengthy day of school.

“It’s really nice to have something I can count on,” Payton said. “Whether I don’t feel good or had a bad day at school, I know [that] every day I get to go to the gym and practice.”

Beginning at age six, Payton has acquired countless lifelong friends through gymnastics that continuously give her memories she will forever keep and appreciate. Being at the gym so often, she grows close to her teammates easily. 

“I really love the friends that I’ve made,” Payton said. “It’s comforting to know [that] every day after school, I get to see them.”

Afraid of leaving her initial friendships, Payton was forced to make a difficult decision at the beginning of the season: she had to choose to either participate in club gymnastics or school gymnastics. This decision had to be made to destress her daily schedule; therefore, she, unfortunately, knew she had to give up one or the other.

“One of the hardest things is when I compete with one meet with high school gymnastics, I can’t go back to club gymnastics,” Payton said. “So I can’t do both; I had to pick between either school or club, and I ended up choosing club.”

Payton’s everlasting love for this strenuous sport has grown over the years in her participation. Gymnastics is full of hardships and perseverance, and she feels that this sport truly embodies her and her personality. Her strength is constantly being justified; she brushes off injuries and comes back more determined than ever.

It’s really nice to have something I can count on,” Payton said. “Whether I don’t feel good or had a bad day at school, I know [that] every day I get to go to the gym and practice.

Payton now considers injuries to be nothing but an inconvenience. She has broken her wrist, her right ankle a total of five times, and her left ankle three times. 

“When I broke my ankle the first time, I had fallen off the bars,” Payton said. “It was a total fluke, and I just landed wrong.”

Even though injuries would encourage most to stop, they only encouraged Payton to do more. As a result, Payton has developed a passion for another sport: diving. 

Interestingly, gymnastics and diving are extremely similar. They each resemble complementary factors that consist of form, technique, and performance. The diving team is small but strong; Payton is one of three members. Senior Olivia Jeong and freshman Olivia Thornley dive beside her.

The fact that the dive team is so minuscule does not disprove the fact that they compete like a family. Payton bonds not just with her fellow divers but the whole swim team as well, especially at practice. 

“The water is always freezing at practice,” Payton said. “Although, divers don’t do morning practices like the swimmers do, so that’s good.”

 She adores the diving coach and coaching style. Payton likes to think of coach Jasmine Ramahi as an inspiration and a great encouragement for her to become the best diver possible.

“The team is great, especially our coach Jasmine,” Payton said. “She is a really sweet coach and person. It’s been really nice to get to know her.” 

Regarding commitment, both gymnastics and diving have taken up the majority of Payton’s schedule. Moreover, practicing for so many hours a day can interfere with her social life at home and with friends.

“It’s hard to know that I’m missing out on stuff at school and with my friends, but it’s definitely worth doing what I love,” Payton said.

Being on a high school team comes hand-in-hand with being in the surroundings of upperclassmen. As a freshman, this can oftentimes be difficult, but for Payton, it was a smooth transition.

“[Upperclassmen] have taught me a lot about the values of people,” Payton said. “Just to know that they’re there for me, like if I need help on homework, to know that they’re there is really great.” 

Furthermore, with the addition from upperclassmen, the different atmospheres vary in Payton’s opinion.  

“The school team atmosphere is very different; it’s like ‘oh, there’s my teammate walking in the hallway,’” Payton said. “It’s nice to have people to say hi to at school.”

Both gymnastics and diving have changed Payton and allowed her to become a skilled athlete and a better person. The community from each sports team have both similarities and differences that make each team stand out from the other. Being a part of both club and school teams have improved her work ethic, mentality, and communication skills.

“I love gymnastics and diving,” Payton said. “They didn’t just improve my athleticism, but [they] also helped me become a better person.”