Just 16 years old and a year removed from a broken fibula injury, Central York sophomore Jackie Terpak made her college decision Tuesday. She verbally committed to Utah State University on a full athletic scholarship to be a part of the Aggies' storied gymnastics program.
When she graduates in 2018, Terpak will make the 2,000-mile trip to Logan, Utah, where the Aggies have reached the postseason 26 times, including five appearances in the national championships. Terpak, who has been in the sport since she was 3 years old, discussed her decision.
What got you into the sport?
My sister was a gymnast and I would always copy anything she would do. We had a mat at home and she would teach me the skills she was learning. That's when my parents decided to place me in classes.
How did Utah State find you or how did that connection get started?
Freshman year is when recruiting in gymnastics starts to be very important. I suffered an injury that season. Once I was getting healthy, I looked at programs that still had scholarships available and Utah State was one of them. I had actually met the assistant coach, Josh Nilson, going into my freshman year at the University of Utah gymnastics camp. He was a guest coach and I loved working with him, which is also why I proceeded to look into USU. After emailing them about my interest, they contacted my coach, flew in to watch a practice and it really grew from there. Then summer of 2015, I went to their camp, did my campus tour and received an offer a few days later.
Why'd you decide to choose the Aggies?
It is where my heart is/was when it came time to choose. I loved the coaches, the campus was beautiful and easy to get around and I wanted to be a part of a program that is continuing to succeed and get better year after year, as well as having the same goals as I do. USU also offered the majors I was interested in (human movement science/exercise science) and being located in a small town like Logan, it just had nothing but great things to offer, a lot of which you wouldn't have expected.
Did you consider any other schools?
I definitely considered other schools. My family, coaches and I found it very important to keep a lot of options and visit as many schools as I can so in the end I would know exactly what I wanted in a college and gymnastics program. The decision process was very difficult, as the timeline I was given was shortly coming to an end. In the end, I was deciding between three great programs but Utah State was the best fit.
How long did it take you to decide on Utah State? Did you go back and forth at all on it?
Well I sat on the offer for about seven months. And not until the past month did I really consider my decision and if I was going to continue my education and career at Utah State. I went back and forth many times. After making the phone call, I knew it was right and that everything had fallen into place.
And how did your coaches and family react when you decided?
My coaches were excited and thought I was making the right decision. My parents were excited and hesitant, only because I am so young and they originally didn't want me to commit so early, though there wasn't much of a choice. They are very happy with my decision, though. My dad hasn't seen the school yet but my mom loved it as well. The journey getting to this point has been nothing but a roller coaster for us all. It's awesome to have had my hard work pay off and to know that everything was worth it. I can't wait to be a part of the Aggie gymnastics family.