As a determined freshman, Longview senior Steelie King set a goal to earn a collegiate scholarship in gymnastics.
Thursday evening at Texas East Gymnastics she accomplished that goal.
Surrounded by her parents, coaches, well-wishers and fellow gymnasts, King put pen to paper and signed a scholarship to Texas Woman’s University.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Steelie, who is a senior at Cumberland Academy High School in Tyler. “(TWU) always contacted me and when I went on a campus visit, I just felt like home. I met the girls and I just fell in love with the place. It’s an amazing feeling and every time I talk about TWU, I can’t help but smile.”
Steelie is the daughter of Longview head football coach John King, who led the Lobos to a state championship last year and enter the playoffs this week as the favorite to repeat. Steelie’s brother, Haynes, is quarterback of the Lobos and he recently committed to Texas A&M.
“We’re very blessed as a family. We have great kids who are good athletes and also good people,” King said. “They are good in the classroom too. It takes commitment, hard work and dedication to get to this point. Each one of them took a different path and pursued their dreams.
“Reality set in today with Steelie signing, and hopefully in another month, Haynes will be doing the same thing.”
Steelie advanced to Junior Olympic Nationals in May and helped the regional team finish second overall. Steelie finished the 2018-19 season with the second-best vault score in the state, which put her No. 15 overall in the USA.
Steelie King now joins a TWU program that has won 11 Collegiate National Championships with its most recent coming in 2018.
“I can see Steelie being an all-around gymnast for the team and quickly becoming a leader and a captain,” said TWU head coach Lisa Bowman.
Steelie chose Texas Woman’s over opportunities offered by Utah, Kentucky, North Carolina State and West Virginia.
She joined Texas East Gymnastics as a freshman. In four years, Steelie King moved up the ranks from Level 8 to Level 10 and will now be a collegiate athlete.
Texas East director Martin Parsley said the quick rise illustrates drive and willingness to work toward her goal.
“When you look at the 10 levels of gymnastics, the ninth level takes 2 or 3 years and the 10th level takes 3 or 4 years to try and really get there,” Parsley said. “That is what she said she wanted.”
Coach King admits that he was supportive, but also a little skeptical that TEG could help his daughter achieve this.
“It’s year around commitment. Up at 5:30 to get ready to (drive from Longview) to school and getting home late at night,” King said. “It’s what she wanted to do.
“She had to overcome some injuries; she probably missed three or four months of training with this whole process, but she was able to come back and catch back up. I can’t say enough great things about Martin and Stacy (Panfil-Parsley) with what they were able to do to get her to where she is today.”
Steelie follows recent Texas East gymnasts signees Sarah Shaffer (Arkansas), Drew Watson (Auburn) and Danica Abanto (Ohio State).