Saige Bender and Her Life as a Varsity Gymnast


Niles West Girls Gymnastics Team posing, from left to right: Sofia Sriver, Alexandra George, Jocelyn Lu, Saige Bender and Stephanie Avram.

By Gia Bexes, Staff Writer

Dismounting off of the balance beam, Saige Bender impressively sticks the landing and wows the crowd. Being a competitive gymnast, as well as a hard working student takes talent, which is something sophomore Bender has.

 “I joined Niles West’s gymnastics team my freshman year. I joined because I was hoping for a group of girls who felt like a family and I definitely got that! Gymnastics has always been a highlight in my life, and I was so happy to get to continue doing the sport I love, ” Bender said. 

Bender became a gymnast at a very young age, and has been in gymnastics for most of her life. “One of my favorite memories is when I won at state on the balance beam in seventh grade,” Bender said.

“I started gymnastics at 1 years old and started competing when I was around 4 years old. Since then I have competed on the same team where I traveled all around the country. Once COVID began during my eighth-grade-year, I stopped competing until it got better. Soon my freshman year started, and I competed on varsity. I am now a sophomore and on varsity again.”

Aside from being a gymnast, she also engages in other after school activities.

“I am involved in Student Government, Cabinet, CEC club, Dance Marathon, App Development, Computer Science Honor Society, Girls Who Code, and gymnastics,” Bender said.

Bender is very involved around West and takes interest in several activities, “I love being able to meet so many people that I can relate to through my various interests. When we are all spending our free time doing something, it shows that we all care about the same ideas. I started gymnastics when I was one years old, and fell in love with the sport,” Bender said. 

Some of Bender’s favorite classes include AP Chemistry and App Development, “AP Chemistry allows me to challenge myself while doing fun labs to build further on the class concepts. App Development gives me a chance to create apps in an environment of creativity,” Bender said. 

Traveling is one thing that Bender takes interest in, “I love to travel. Gymnastics gave me many opportunities to go around the country, but my family also has traveled a lot on our own. I have been to over 30 states, but my favorite by far is California,” Bender said. 

On a regular day after school, you can find Bender and the team in the gymnastics gym warming up, and then breaking off into groups to work on different events. Bender’s favorite event is the balance beam.

After separating, the team ends off conditioning together. Bender expressed that her favorite part of practice is the beginning and end because the team feels like a family. Bender’s favorite thing about being close with all of her teammates is that everyone feels included and the team holds a tight bond. As Bender progresses through gymnastics, she has learned that if you stick with something your whole life and you enjoy what you do, good things will happen from it.