The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

Cardinal Kai

Senior gymnast completes NCAA recruitment process
Photo credit: JP Lazar
Kai Uemura signs his official commitment to Stanford University for gymnastics in the Draft gym.

Kai Uemura, a senior at Parker and a top level gymnast, signed his commitment to Stanford University on Wednesday, November 8. Stanford is ranked number one in the NCAA for Mens’ Gymnastics. 

At Uemura’s signing day, the chairs were filled by the Parker community, including students across grade levels, parents, teachers, the Athletics Department, and College Counseling. “It tells me that there’s a lot of people in the Parker community that support me,” Uemura said. 

Sitting in the front row were Uemura’s parents who have supported him throughout his gymnastics career. He said, “My parents are my number one supporters, and without them I’d be nowhere close to where I am today. It’s my dream and their dream.”

Uemura’s coach in Chicago, Arkadiy Andryushchenko said, “I am very proud that such a prestigious school would have so much interest in one of my athletes.” 

Uemura trains at Lakeshore Gymnastics Academy in Mount Prospect, Illinois, “a really well known gym that produces a lot of top juniors,” Thom Glielmi, the Stanford Men’s gymnastics Head Coach, said. “We always keep an eye on the kids in that gym. Kai has the highest difficulty in Juniors so he really puts himself a couple steps ahead.”

During the recruiting process, Uemura was deciding between two schools, Stanford University and University of Michigan, the number one and number two gymnastics colleges in the United States. After visiting Stanford, his decision was clear. “I went on the trip to Stanford, and I really liked the campus and people. I loved the team, I loved the guys, and it was top class and I wanted to be a part of that,” he said. 

Glielmi spoke on the recruitment of Uemura to his team. Glielmi emphasized the importance of team culture. “We have a great team culture here, and it’s taken a long time to build.” Glielmi added, “I want athletes who have strong character and good work ethic. Kai’s work ethic and character really stand out.”

Uemura was the first Parker student of the class of 2024 to commit to a college. He said, “It’s a huge weight off of my shoulders.” He is relieved that he is finished with the college acceptance process and is doing his best to support his peers who haven’t yet been accepted.

“Kai is really the first person who has gotten recruited by Stanford from our gym, which speaks to his gymnastics ability and also his strong academics.”Andryushchenko said.

Similarly, Glielmi said, “Kai had been in a very rigorous course load in academics so he seemed like a very good fit for Stanford.” 

Uemura is interested in medicine and a career as a doctor after majoring in some form of biology and science. “I want to enjoy learning and try to have fun with it,” he said.

In regards to Uemura’s gymnastics at Stanford, Glielmi said, “I see him fitting in seamlessly” with the Stanford team, based on his work ethic and skill. On collegiate travel teams for gymnastics, there are 15 people: five for each event. Glielmi said, “He’ll definitely make the traveling roster as a freshman.” 

“Stanford has a four year winning streak in the NCAA and I want to continue that,” Uemura said. 

Andryushchenko said, “As he has grown, I have seen his determination and discipline grow as well. His dreams keep getting bigger and bigger.” 

“Throughout college, I want to keep that Olympic dream. Stanford is the place where I can achieve those goals,” Uemura said.

Glielmi spoke on what it takes to go that far and his past students that have gone to the Olympics. He said, “I’ve had Olympians and the thing that stands out with those athletes, and I see it in Kai, is their confidence.” Regarding Uemura being a Junior National Champion, Glielmi said, “As a Junior national Champion, those are usually the guys who go in for spots on the Olympic teams.”

Andryushchenko said, “His goals are my goals. While I will not be his coach anymore after this year, I hope that Kai will be able to accomplish his goal of making the Olympic Team while at Stanford.”

Uemura said, “I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished. I’m just really excited to be a part of a gymnastics team who are all really good and supportive.”

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About the Contributor
Ava Lin, Sports Writer
Ava Lin is a sophomore and is a sports writer for "The Weekly." She plays volleyball and runs track for Parker and loves all sports. At Parker, she is the head of the Phaedrus art magazine and a head of the women of color affinity group. Outside of school, she loves painting and playing squash. Her favorite part of "The Weekly" is interviewing people.