Waxhaw’s All American Gymnast: Meet Julianna Cannamela

Julianna Cannamela is a two-time All American Gymnast on vault. Photo Credit: Chris Parent

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Julianna Cannamela didn’t set out to be an All American Gymnast. However, the Waxhaw native ended her undergrad career at Louisiana State University (LSU) as a two-time All American on vault. Despite her busy summer schedule, Cannamela took the time to interview with the Tri-W and share about her journey. This is part one in a two-part series.

How did you get started doing gymnastics?

I’m not really sure how I got started in gymnastics. I remember trying cheerleading for a boys’ basketball team and hating it because we weren’t doing “cool flips.” So my mom took me to a tumbling class at Southeastern Gymnastics, where I started a recreation class with Coach Frank. 

After a few classes, the head coach came over and told my mom I had natural talent and could go really far with this sport. Then I stuck with it.

When did you know you wanted to do it competitively?

I never realized how competitive this sport was until I was older. I was just a little girl having fun. Once I started to reach the age where college coaches started looking at me, things got tough. Gymnastics is a tough sport in general, but colleges only have a handful of scholarships for gymnastics. So it got even tougher.

I hated competing when I was in JOs (Junior Olympic), which is what gymnastics is called before college. I honestly reached a point where I just didn’t love the sport anymore. I actually hated it. LSU changed my perspective on the sport and showed me a whole different coaching style that I didn’t know existed. My LSU coaches have helped me in and out of the gym, and I’m forever grateful for everything they have done for me.

What is the best part about competing?

I didn’t really find the love for gymnastics when I went to LSU. Instead, I found the love for my teammates, coaches, and all of LSU’s staff. That made me absolutely love going into practice every day and pushing myself.

I was working for something much bigger than myself. I was doing it for my teammates, coaches, and most importantly, LSU. Every time I stepped on that competition floor, I could have cried — even though I’m not an emotional person at all. I was so thankful that I had that opportunity, and even if I wasn’t competing that night, I knew my job was to be there and help my teammates in any way I could.

What do you feel when you perform well?

I can’t describe that feeling of competing well because there is so much emotion going on — and so many people in the stands screaming — that almost nothing goes through my mind. But I would always look up at my mom in the stands after every performance because no matter how I did, my family was and always will be proud of me.

My family was and always will be proud of me. Photo Credit: Chris Parent

Do you have any music you listen to when you practice that helps keep you focused?

I love country music when I work out. My favorite artists are Kane Brown, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, and of course, Florida Georgia Line. I always chose their songs for my beam song.

What are you doing right now?

I will be starting grad school at LSU in the fall and will be getting my master’s in social work. I also do choreography for floor and beam, which is what I have been doing all summer — besides working different camps. Feel free to contact me if your gymnasts need a new floor or beam routine, or a floor or beam routine touch-up. My email is jcanna4@lsu.edu

Light editing was done for brevity and clarity.

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Annie Beth Donahue lives in Indian Trail, North Carolina with her husband Brad, and four children. She is a professional writer for both the web and print, and she can be found at www.anniebethdonahue.com.

Annie Beth also has a bachelor's degree in music therapy from Queens University of Charlotte, and has either been working with or parenting children with special needs for the past 18 years. She is a children's book author and the founder and president of Signposts Ministries, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that serves families that have children with chronic health problems or disabilities. In her non-working time, she homeschools and oversees the children's care of their small menagerie made up of chickens, two donkeys, a dog, a cat, and a snake.