History is repeating itself at the Bismarck Gymnastics Academy, as Ellie DeForest is heading back to Nationals.

DeForest qualified with her beam routine a few weeks back at regionals and will fly to Boise to compete against other Level 9 gymnastics from around the nation. It was a major surprise for DeForest the last time around, but this past year, she’s been determined to get back.

The other athletes in the gym have been supportive, and Deforest can see that during her practices, knowing that her experience makes her a role model.

“It’s really cool, especially for the really young girls to have my picture on the wall downstairs,” says DeForest. “I see them sometimes saying, Oh, I seen you on the wall, that’s so cool. And it just makes me feel really proud because I remember being really young and looking up to the girls and I’m like that girl that I was looking up to now.”

Ellie’s coach Tori West is thrilled that DeForest is back at this level, saying that it’s been a tough road to return to nationals. There’s constant work on Ellie’s mental approach as well as her routine, and West knows that this goes around and should have Ellie more prepared for the big stage.

“She’s shown a lot of fight,” says West. “And just getting through the mental toughness aspect of gymnastics. It’s even harder than the physical things, so I’m really proud of her powering through and getting the job done. I just want her to go out and have fun. She works so hard in practice and I just want her to be able to showcase that in a meet.”