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Trent Jarrett flying high
Trent Jarrett, grandson of Rockdale residents George and Dotty Schath, qualified for the NCAA National Championship in the rings event at the University of Illinois. - photo by submitted photo /The News

Trent Jarrett went down a path few men travel. 

He wanted to be an athlete but didn’t know what sport would fit him and give him the motivation and willpower to succeed. He finally came to a conclusion and the result wasn’t basketball, baseball, football or hockey. It was gymnastics. 

Jarrett picked up gymnastics at a very young age.

“He very first started at 18-months-old and has never stopped since.” Trent’s mother Karren Jarrett said. “He started competing at age 8, in the third grade.” 

Jarrett, the grandson of George and Dotty Schath of Conyers, tried to pursue other sports as a young child. Soccer, basketball and baseball are some of the few. But, he couldn’t succeed in those other sports because of his lack of hearing in his right ear.

“His hearing always made it hard to hear on a big field” Karren Jarrett said. “He would hear a whistle and wouldn’t always know where it was coming from.”

As time went on, Jarrett started getting more focused and determined in gymnastics. When he was in middle school, his family knew that he had something special. His talents really started to show in seventh grade, where different coaches started to realize his talent. 

“The older I got, the more I fell in love with it, and the more I wanted to get better,” he said.

Jarrett eventually chose to compete at the Atlanta School of Gymnastics. He also competed for Roswell Gymnastics. He won many events throughout high school. But in his senior year, He was an all-around state champion. 

But in winning the state championship his senior year, Jarrett encountered something that would change his life. He began experiencing excruciating pain in his shoulders, which lasted all season. Doctors couldn’t find the cause. Rather than miss competitions he had been training for most of his career, he gritted his teeth and competed through the pain, winning big events. 

“It was a really rough season, but somehow I pulled it out.” Jarrett said. 

He had accepted an offer to the University of Illinois. But, they ran out of room on their team. He would go on to accept an offer from the University of Iowa. So after graduating from Mill Creek High School, he went off to Iowa with his troubling shoulders.

“My shoulders weren’t getting better,” he said. “The summer before Iowa, it was bad pain.”

Jarrett’s dream was to be able to complete on the college level in gymnastics, and he had a chance to accomplish that. But, his dream wouldn’t go as well as he wanted.  His shoulders continued getting worse and he couldn’t impress the Iowa coaches enough to have him compete. He was eventually cut from the team.

“It was a shock,” said Trent. “I wouldn’t say I was surprised because I always had something telling me in the back of my head but it was still a shock, and it really hurt.”

This was a low point in Jarrett’s life. He had basically given up on gymnastics. But, his dad Scott Jarrett had not. His dad attempted to find any other programs who were interested in his son.

Coach Charley Nelson responded to the email and stated that there was a spot for Jarrett at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Jarrett was excited about the opportunity to compete again.

He took some time off though. He went back home to rest his shoulders and just take a break away from gymnastics.  He needed to find himself and rekindle that fire that he had in his heart for gymnastics. During that time off, he was able to heal his shoulders and he worked hard to become better at gymnastics.

“Honestly, I felt I needed it. I really did.” said Jarrett

After he was accepted at UIC, he went to Chicago and was ready and motivated to do thing he always loved — gymnastics. He was focused on the challenge ahead of him. The season was difficult season for Jarrett and his team; they suffered some severe circumstances. But, they made it to the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship. 

Jarrett and his teammates were zoned in, wanting so bad to qualify for nationals. They had worked so hard all year for that moment.  

With that focus and drive, they were able to qualify for the NCCA National Championship. Jarrett qualified for the rings event, his specialty. 

“All the coaches that overlooked me, they saw that I made it there by myself,” said Trent. “It showed me that now you have something in this sport you just need to trust yourself and keep moving forward.” 

In nationals, Jarrett did rank in the top three in his event, but the fact he made it there and was able to overcome all the obstacles was a huge achievement as well. He has a bright future ahead of him and he hopes to achieve a lot more in gymnastics.