Gymnast travels far for sport she loves

Lowcountry athlete gets full scholarship

LITTLE RIVER, SC (WMBF) - A journey that started in the Lowcountry has found prominence along the Grand Strand.

Alaina Raybon is as talented as athletes come.

"Thirteen years old is when I realized it was something I really felt I could potentially do and something I seriously wanted to pursue," she said.

While gymnastics, more specifically flipping in mid-air, isn't for everybody, it certainly is for her.

"This young lady loves gymnastics," Coach Melissa Bigsby said."Secondly, she wants to be an Ocean Flipper. She wants to contribute to part of our level 10 team environment and third, she just has a heart of gold."

Raybon drives from Mount Pleasant to Little River five days a week with no problem.

"My dad knew that this was the place I wanted to be when I switched gyms back in 2013 and he did whatever he needed to," Raybon said. "My mom also helps out. She works most of the time so my dad was the one who did most of the driving but she's there just as much emotionally all the time. They are just so supportive and I love them. I couldn't thank them enough."

Plenty of talent, but she's even more of an inspiration.

Coach Louie Ligouri agrees.

"When she starts her routines, all the kids stop," he said. "You might have 100 kids in the gym like this, but they know when Alaina is going and they'll stop and cheer her on, and that all started because that's what Alaina does for the little kids too."

It's all about the work for Raybon.

"It doesn't happen overnight. You have to come in and put the work in every single day and it just makes me feel like I really have the power to put my mind to what I want to do and achieve anything that I can as long as I'm willing to put in the work," she said.

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