Forest Lake gymnast Ramberg takes leap to Alaska

  • Article by: AARON PAITICH , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 15, 2014 - 4:18 PM

Talented Forest Lake gymnast Emily Ramberg is Alaska-bound on a scholarship.


Forest Lake’s Emily Ramberg, who calls the balance beam one of her favorite events, has signed with Alaska Anchorage, where she has an opportunity to compete right away.

Photo: Mark Enright • Special to the Star Tribune,

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When Emily Ramberg was a child, her parents would take fishing trips up to Alaska, but the kids were never invited.

“They thought we’d be eaten by bears or something,” Ramberg said.

Now, it’s her turn to trek north.

With a scholarship in hand, Ramberg, a senior at Forest Lake, will compete for the University of Alaska Anchorage gymnastics team next fall. As a longtime member of Flyaways Gymnastics, Ramberg began communicating with Alaska Anchorage at the Junior Olympic Nationals in 2013.

She found a perfect fit in the school, lifestyle and competition.

Ramberg considers herself a daddy’s girl. She fishes and bow hunts locally with her father, so the thought of being in Alaska held extra appeal.

“I most definitely am hoping that I can meet some locals or find a way into the nature life,” said Ramberg, who is a three-time Level 10 regional championships qualifier. “I think it would be a great experience. I mean, you’re in Alaska, the last frontier. You have to take advantage of it.”

It may or may not be a coincidence that Ramberg is looking to study aviation, for which Alaska-Anchorage is well-equipped. That aerial lifestyle must run in the family. Emily’s older sister, Jessica, is a sophomore diver at the University of Minnesota.

Another big factor in Emily’s decision included jumping quickly into competition.

“I’ll be in the lineup right away for a couple events,” Ramberg said. “I wanted to be on a team where I could make a difference and compete for them. That’s a big part of it as well. Being able to contribute to the team score is a big thing.”

Mark Hegquist, owner of Flyaways Gymnastics, has known Ramberg since she first stepped foot into its operation. Ramberg started at the gym’s preschool and entered the team program. She would leave the gym for a few years but eventually returned.

“I am very thrilled with how Emily has been doing and how she’s matured,” Hegquist said. “It’s been a fun journey to watch her grow up.”

There were signing parties for Ramberg at Flyaways Gymnastics and at her high school. Ramberg, a highly respected leader within the club, became a team leader and captain a couple of years ago, a symbol of her growth and maturity.

“She’s been like a daughter,” Hegquist said. “I can’t say enough good things about her.”

Steve Hafeman has been working closely with Ramberg for several years at Flyaways Gymnastics. He’s seen her shore up and improve on important skills that have vaulted her to the next level.

“She’s extremely athletic and she learns quickly,” Hafeman said. “She has great form. She’s really quick. That’s one of the attributes college coaches look for — teachable and athletic and continue to learn.”

Ramberg prefers the balance beam.

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