Special to the Vindicator
Nick Hunter, a senior at Canfield High School, placed seventh in all-around competition in the 16- to 18-year-old division of Level 10 at the U.S. Men’s Junior Olympic nationals in Long Beach, Calif. In July, he will return to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for qualifiers and a possible berth at the senior nationals in St. Paul, Minn.
By John Bassetti
Nick Hunter was born in Seattle in 1992 — about the time Starbucks Coffee was looking to become publicly traded.
Nick’s mother, Stephanie, says she and her husband, Tim, didn’t jump at the opportunity.
“We said nobody will be buying coffee for $2.50 a cup,” Stephanie Hunter said of shunning the investment. “That’s insane.”
They may have missed that IPO (initial public offering) in 1992, but they made the right move by putting stock in their son.
Via proper parenting, the Hunters got a better return on the time they devoted to Nick.
Now 18, the Canfield senior will graduate 52nd in a class of 286 in June, then head off to the University of Michigan in the fall on scholarship as a member of the Wolverines’ men’s gymnastics team.
Those are no small dividends.
A latte would pale in comparison.
Like a mocha, Hunter’s achievements have been all taste and no waste.
Most recently, Nick, in the 16- to 18-year-old division of Level 10, placed seventh in all-around competition at the U.S. Men’s Junior Olympic nationals in Long Beach, Calif.
“His latest accomplishment is huge, but his goal is to keep going,” Stephanie Hunter said.
The national championships are a qualifier for Level 10 gymnasts to advance to the Visa Championships in St. Paul, Minn., in August, when results will determine the national team.
As he did last summer, Nick will return to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs in July for qualifiers and a possible berth at the senior nationals in St. Paul.
Hunter was invited to the senior nationals in Hartford last August.
“It’s always good to do well at the nationals because it’s a very tight group,” Stephanie Hunter said. “The more you’re seen and ranked, the better.”
She explained how performance in gymnastics differs from other individual sports such as track and swimming.
“It’s not timed, but judged. So it’s much better being known at the highest level.”
Nick has been in gymnastics since third grade.
“We encouraged him to play Little League and soccer and he was in Cub Scouts, but he really wanted to focus on gymnastics and has a full passion for it,” his mother said.
“He’s made friends across the country. When your sport is outside of school, it’s something you have to love to keep up. And he loves it.”
Hunter trains 20-24 hours a week in Cleveland at Gymnastics World, a commitment that involves an hour’s drive each way and four hours of practice at the facility in Broadview Heights.
The Cleveland routine has gone on for the last 21/2 years.
As is the stereotypical specialty sport athlete, Nick strives for excellence and manages his time.
He’s a volunteer in his community and worked as a research assistant at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. He also plays piano and possesses artistic talent.
Obviously, Nick has a lot going for himself, but it’s not happenstance.
It’s not uncommon for those finishing in the top 10 to be recruited by major college programs.
Michigan was the NCAA men’s gymnastic champion in 2010, but Stanford captured it this year.
The outcome of the Hunters’ decision 18 years ago is clear: Michigan instead of mocha; GPA higher than a latte.