Landers Dodge Chrysler Jeep Athlete of the Week for June 19, 2013: Jalon Stephens
The sport of gymnastics and the state of the Louisiana hasn't historically been a great fit.
Only one gymnast from the Pelican State has even made it to the national level making Jalon Stephens our Athlete of the Week.
Precise and patient are two words that describe Southwood senior Jalon Stephens as he works on his routines. Jalon has an opportunity to earn a spot on the U.S. national gymnastics team when he competes in the championships in August.
"I'm like wow I can make the national team. I can represent my country," Jalon said.
Head coach Sean Keefe has been working with Jalon for seven years.
"He's an exceptionally rare talent."
So rare that he's the only gymnast ever from the state of Louisiana to make it to the national level.
It was his performance in the Junior Olympics earlier this spring that vaulted him into the national spotlight... literally. He was crowned national champion for his vault routine.
Falling in love with the sport at the age of four, the climb to the top has not been easy for Jalon after being teased for his love for the sport.
"A lot of people try to make fun of me but it really didn't matter to me because I know who I want to be and what my goals were."
His goal is to be part of the 2016 Olympic team.
"I really see myself being on the team because I have the mental stability. I just really think I can make it. It's possible. It's a very difficult process and they only choose five guys for the Olympic team."
"I want to thank god because without this it wouldn't be possible. Thanks to my parents and my coaches, without them it certainly wouldn't be possible. I want to thank my teammates because they push me harder than I push myself and I want to thank my best friend, Courtney, for everything that she has done."