Joe and Chelsey Gymnasts

Q&A with Chelsey and Joe

Rapid City gymnasts Joseph “Joe” Carlin III and Chelsey Christensen are both featured in the latest issue of Black Hills Family! These teens were Level 10 gymnasts in the Black Hills, which is the highest level attainable in the USA Gymnastics Junior Olympic Program.

These high-flying teens have found their way to success on the mat, but they soon will face a completely new challenge: starting college.

Chelsey Christensen

18-year-old Chelsey is going to the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, a District 1 NCAA school. She is excited to take on the new challenges and continue her gymnastics career.
The University of Missouri is a huge school for gymnastics, as they are ranked number 15 nationally (2017). Chelsey is ecstatic to have been accepted into such a competitive athletic program!

Q: How did you get into gymnastics?

Chelsey: I started a long time ago in Mom and Tot classes. My mom has always told me that I was a little bit clumsy so they wanted gymnastics to help, and I’ve came a long ways from that. I grew up doing gymnastics with my sister and it was really fun because we would challenge each other to get a little bit better each time.

Q: What do you like about it?

Chelsey: The atmosphere is fun! I couldn’t imagine not doing it. Everyone is positive and they build you up. And – when you finally figure out a new skill, it is so rewarding! Going across the country I make friends with other gymnasts and it’s really nice meeting up with them and seeing how they’re doing.

Q: How will college gymnastics be different than high school?

Chelsey: Right now it’s more individual — you want to be your best. But in college, it’s more team based, and they build the team up. I am really excited to be on the team and have a group of girls my age. I know my coaches can take me to Nationals… that’s my ultimate goal!

Q: Is it difficult to keep up with school, your gymnastics regime, and other responsibilities?

Chelsey: Fitting everything in is the hardest challenge with being a student athlete. I think it will help a lot at college with the support system and coaches. Gymnastics season always came first because recruiting and college was priority, but I did soccer and track in the off-season. During the school year my day is wake up, go to school at Central, go home, eat, gym, practice for four hours, come home and do homework for the next day. If i didn’t have a meet on the weekend, I would try to hang out with friends.


Above: Joe (left) and Chelsey (right) in 2015. Read their original story here.


Joe Carlin III

18-year-old Joe is going to the join the Huskers at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. In addition working hard to being a better gymnast, he also works hard at his studies. He earned an academic scholarship and will study to become a veterinarian.

He was part of the only boys’ gymnastics team in the entire state. The closest other boys’ team is all the way in Colorado Springs.


Q: How did you get into gymnastics?

Joe: I started gymnastics when I was two because of my mom, but that was the small classes and I started competing in first grade. I also had friends in gymnastics that were with me since I was a kid, too.

Q: What do you like about it?

Joe: I didn’t do anything of the [more popular sports] like football, but I think gymnastics is a lot more fun. It’s different because every single day you’re doing something different. There are six different events (floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars, and high bar) and each day you go in for three hours a day and can still do something different.

Q: How do you juggle all of your responsibilities?

Joe: It was difficult, not going to lie. After school I would go home and have about an hour and a half to whatever I needed to do which is eat, then gymnastics; then after 9 p.m., I would do homework. I would have to wake up early in the morning for jazzband at 7 a.m.

Missing school was hard because I’d have to make up all that work – and I was taking hard classes. When I’m presented with a situation, I’ll think which one is more important. Can I take this night off to hang out with friends? Everything’s a priority, but you have to choose which is greater in that moment. Do I have a lot of homework? Is it due soon? I may need to leave a little earlier to get it done.

While maintaining a rigorous gymnastics schedule, he was also involved with wrestling, jazz band, and symphonic band while maintaining a 3.8 GPA in advanced classes.

Q: Who has impacted your success?

Joe: Colton Wolf was my coach for three years, and I trained with him, too. He went on and competed at the Air Force Academy, but he just furthered my gymnastics more than anyone did out of all 10 years. In just two years [of coaching], he made me a way better gymnast and why I am the way I am today.