Athlete of the Week: Maria Buczkowski


Lukas Werner

Freshman Maria Buczkowski does gymnastics for the Precision Elite team in Clackamas.

Nicholas Hounton, Staff Reporter

Like many other freshmen at La Salle, Maria Buczkowski takes English, Physics, and Introduction to Sacred Scripture. She considers them her “three hardest classes” but overcoming challenges is nothing new for her. 

Monday through Friday, for three to four hours each, Buczkowski is at the gym practicing her craft: gymnastics.

Starting at 5 years old, Buczkowski became extremely passionate about gymnastics. Now, almost a decade later, her commitment to the sport has held firm.

“My parents put me in gymnastics because I had a lot of energy, and once I started to learn how to do cartwheels, that’s literally all I would do,” Buczkowski said.

Slowly improving at the sport, she’s currently a Level 8 gymnast, a title earned by official rankings at meets. To qualify for regionals, gymnasts have to be Level 7 or higher. 

One thing she learned is that gymnastics is “not like what you see on TV,” she said. The bars, beams, and mats all require intense amounts of physical training, especially conditioning. 

On top of the rigorous exercise, she’s had her share of challenges along the way. In October of 2021, she injured her foot and had to wear an injury boot for two months. Getting back into gymnastics was tough, but seeing the end goal of where gymnastics could take her and how she could hone her skills, she managed to ease back into it.

With the demanding time requirements for the activity, Buczkowski had to make many sacrifices. The losses piled up and wore on her, a shining example being the times she’s had to pass up on hanging out with friends. Slowly, her interest in gymnastics began to dwindle, especially with the slow rate at which she was making progress with her skills. That’s when she found a burst of inspiration from an influential figure: Simone Biles.

Simone Biles is an Olympic gymnast who quit the sport during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Buczkowski was inspired by Biles’ courage in the act of quitting gymnastics and said this actually encouraged her to continue gymnastics through the struggle.

“There’s a lot, a lot of challenges, and you just have to face them,” said Buczkowski. “And you have to get through them and it kind of makes you a better gymnast in the end.”

One achievement Buczkowski has her sights set on is to earn first place at a meet, though she says rankings at meets aren’t her number one goal.

“I think it’s not really about the team score and where you play, it’s kind of just how you do and having a good attitude,” she said. “Because even if you don’t place first, having a good attitude can still feel like you placed first.”

If there’s one thing she wants to remember years from now, it would be what she’s learned through her experience sticking with gymnastics. 

“And there are some points where you just ask yourself ‘Why am I doing this sport? Why did I choose this?’ And I tell myself that I love this sport, and it’s the sport for me.”