Ayanna Fossum’s family has gymnastics in their blood. Fossum dreamed of competing in gymnastics since she was 4 years old.
A lot of it has to do with the fact that her sister was really good at it as a child and that translated
many years later when the two siblings were in high school.
“My sister flipped around the house a lot and she was really good at it,” said Fossum. “I had a lot of energy, so since my sister was good at it, (my parents) just added me into it.”
Fossum stood atop the podium as a state champion in the all-around, floor and vault in 2019. In 2020, she successfully defended all three state championships.
Since 2011, Acacia and Ayanna Fossum have won the floor event at the state gymnastics meet every year except in 2013, when Mikaela Kessel of Dickinson won it.
As a senior in her final gymnastics meet ever, Fossum knocked it out of the park on the floor, scoring a 9.833, earning her fourth consecutive state championship in the event.
“I will miss having fun with my teammates and them cheering me on during my floor routine…” she said. “It honestly feels perfect. I feel like I have a lot of weight off my shoulders. I have worked so hard for this since I was 4 years old and it has finally paid off. I really just have no words.”
Fossum also earned her second straight all-around individual championship with a score of 37.500 and her second consecutive state title on the vault as well with a score of 9.550.
For Fossum and fellow senior Brinkyln Schumacher, it was an emotional day, not only because it was their last day as a Dickinson High gymnast, but it was the final event for another legend as well: Kent Van Ells career ended on Saturday after 37 years as the head coach of the five-time reigning state champions.
After embracing several gymnasts at the end of the meet, it hit him that this was it.
“I got a little emotional myself,” he said. “It was difficult for me, and I really appreciated (my gymnasts) coming to me and telling me how they are going to miss me in the gym, and it affected me. There’s going to be some days like that, that I really feel like I’m missing the girls and missing (coaching), no doubt about it.”
Fossum and Van Ells going out on top marks the end of a legacy, but Schumacher helped the Midgets reach the top of the mountain as well.
She placed third in the all-around with a score of 37.200 and she placed top 10 in all five of the events.
“I think it is special. Mr. V, I am going to miss him so much. He has been my second dad forever. He has always been there for us…,” said Fossum. “The two seniors have been with him since we were little. We have a special bond. I think it is cool.”
While Fossum’s sister, Acacia, continued her gymnastics career in college at Wisconsin-Whitewater, she has other plans.
She is giving up the sport for another one of her loves.
“Ever since I was little, I have wanted to be a hairstylist. I am really girly and I love to do hair,” she said. “So that is what I have wanted to do since I was a kid.”