12-year-old gymnast Kaden Romig headed to national competition

Kaden Romig practices at Empire Gymnastics.
Kaden Romig practices at Empire Gymnastics.(Chris Hagan)
Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 7:29 AM CDT
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At just 12 years old, Kaden Romig’s accomplished more athletically than most do their entire career. And he’s done it in a sport where absolutely nothing comes easy.

“This is the only sport where you walk in, and the very first thing you do is you fall,” says coach Greg Grillot, who runs Empire Gymnastics. “And then you’ve got to get back up and do it again. And then you fall again, and then you’ve got to get back up and do it again.”

The falling, and not even a broken arm in 2020, kept him from qualifying for nationals this year.

“Not a lot of kids get to see that,” says Grillot. “Most kids who do gymnastics won’t go to national championships.”

And for Kaden, that’s just the start of where he wants to go.

“I want me and my sister to both have Olympic medals one day,” says Kaden. “So we can just add it to our collection of medals.”

It sounds crazy until you see him perform and hear how others describe him.

“His ability to keep his head down, not let anything bother him and just work through it; that’s a different ability,” says Grillot.

And the work doesn’t stop at home either.

“We have a tumble track, an air track, and it’s literally the length of our living room,” says Kaden’s mother, Hope Romig. “And he’s pretty much on that all day. He’s flipping. He doesn’t stop. He comes from home from a four hour practice, and he’s flipping all day.”

With Kaden, it’s been that way since he first started watching the sport at an even younger age.

“I remember watching one of the Olympics, and I just started doing cartwheels on the couch,” says Kaden. “And my mom came over and said, ‘Do you want to do gymnastics?’”

“I played baseball and coached him in baseball,” says Kaden’s father Dennis. “So going into it, I was just thinking, ‘Oh this will be good core strength and good balance. This will prepare him for baseball.’”

But, for the better, gymnastics stuck.

Under the training of coach Greg Grillot and alongside a talented team at Empire Gymnastics in Elmwood, Kaden continues to soar to new heights with a work ethic mature beyond his years. This likely won’t be the last you’ll hear of him in national competition.

“Not that I didn’t think he could have done it, but he did a lot better than I thought,” says Grillot. “From the three weeks that it took from state championships to regional championships, what he put together and what he was able to accomplish was incredible.”

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