Gymnast Amara Cunningham is a force on the floor for the Dawgs

Amara Cunningham was 3 when her parents enrolled her in gymnastics because she was always jumping around in her house and doing flips on the couches. What a great call that was. The senior from Nyack, New York, was All-Pac-12 Floor First Team as a junior, and is one of only two GymDawgs to average a score over 9.900 in floor exercises in the past 25 years.

How did you end up so far from home?

Out of high school, I committed to Temple University in Philadelphia. But due to a coaching change, I decided to look elsewhere. I came out to visit the UW and fell in love with it. What a great combination of athletics and academics.

What’s the biggest difference between the East and West coasts?

Life on the West Coast is much slower. When you go to the grocery store in New York, where I am from, people are in and out. Here, people always talk to the cashier and other people in line. It’s really different. Also, the mountains here are fabulous. You don’t see that on the East Coast.

Why do you specialize in floor and vault?

I’m more of a power gymnast; I draw strength from my legs. Last year, I worked with an outside choreographer, but this year I am working with [teammates] Brenna Brooks and Geneva Thompson as my choreographers. They know what I like to do in my floor routine. I love working with them.

How have you handled life during the pandemic?

“Interesting” is the perfect word to describe it. COVID-19 has affected three of my four years here. My sophomore year, [gymnastics] was taken away from us because of COVID-19, and we have not been able to always have a normal preseason. Our matches were canceled before the Pac-12 championships in 2020. Our first meet this year was canceled, and last year we didn’t perform in front of fans.

You are one of two seniors on the team. What’s next?

I plan to go to graduate school because I want to become a physical therapist. I am really into physical therapy because [therapists] have been the main reason I have been able to continue in the sport. I am looking at schools in the East and the West. Most of the time, my life is scheduled down to the hour because of school and gymnastics. Right now, I don’t have a plan looking ahead. And I like being able to say that.

What’s something people don’t know about you?

I have not fallen in my gymnastics career.