11-year-old Southfield gymnast learned early life lesson before capturing state title

Posted at 7:26 PM, Jul 14, 2016

Inside a Detroit gym, elementary school students are jumping on trampolines and flipping on mats.

At the front of the pack is an 11 year old girl named Cameron Hall. She's leading her classmates because quite frankly, her talent is remarkable.

Skillsville has been around for over 20 years, with owner Rhon Baker training national and state champions. 

He remembers Cameron's first day at the center, and knew instantly she was a unique talent.

Hall, one of the gym's prized stars, began training at Skillsville when she was just seven years old. 

"When I walk in here every day, I think, 'Wow, I'm going to have lots of fun,'" Hall said.

By the time she was 10 years old, Cameron and her mom, Latwanna Mitchell, realized competing for a state championship was a realistic goal.

"Hard work at her age means so much because it molds her character, and who she's going to be as an adult," Latwanna said.

Quickly progressing on her path to the state championships for the double mini-trampoline, Cameron said she was learning other life lessons from her mom.

During the school year, Cameron fell off the honor roll at her elementary school.

That's when one of her mom's life lessons flared up.

"When the grades were not satisfactory, unfortunately we had to make a sacrifice -- and that was time in the gym," Latwanna recalled.

Cameron spent a handful of practices on the sideline, studying while she watched her sister and friends train at Skillsville.

"It really didn't feel that good, because it was almost a month where I was out of gymnastics," she said.

Her grades weren't terrible, but Latwanna insisted her high standards be upheld.

Cameron met the challenge, and returned her grades to a 3.0 average just in time for the state meet.

"She came back, and came in real strong," Baker said.

Cameron became a state champion in two events, winning the double mini trampoline and floor exercises. 

She said her friends didn't believe she was a state champion, so she brought her medals to school.

"I tell my friends, and if they don't believe me, I pull out the medals out of my bag and I tell them."

As for the future, Cameron promised her mom she learned her lesson to put academics before athletics. She said the Olympics are something she dreams about, and said Gabby Douglas is her hero. 

"If she's talked about (the Olympics), she hasn't told me," Latwanna said. "We go one day at a time. If that happens, great. If this is it, that's wonderful, too."

Brad Galli is a sports anchor and reporter at WXYZ Detroit. Follow Brad on Twitter @BradGalli