‘Hard work pays off’

MIHS gymnastics captain enjoys her time with team.

Bella Nguyen embraces a positive mindset that if times are tough in the gymnastics realm or in life, things will eventually improve.

The Mercer Island High School (MIHS) senior captain has battled multiple injuries over the last few years and she has plowed through them and continued to compete for the Islanders. She’s risen above the mental and physical tolls to guide her teammates in meets and practices.

“I think, honestly, just hard work pays off. I’ve just learned that even if something like this comes up, something gets in your way, there’s always ways around it. It won’t be like this forever. And I think that’s just a really good lesson. It’ll eventually get better,” she said.

Along with junior co-captain Mira Vigileos, one of Nguyen’s best friends, the duo has been having a blast leading the way, teaching and bonding with their teammates, some of whom are freshmen or returners to the sport.

Nguyen delved into the primary message that she sends her teammates’ way from the captain’s seat regarding gymnastics participation.

“It’s a really fun thing to do with your friends. It’s really fun to just hang out together in a way to get back into some of the old skills you might have learned before,” said Nguyen, who began her gymnastics journey at age 6 or 7, dug into the club level a few years later and then performed as a competitive dancer before joining the MIHS gymnastics team four years ago.

High school gymnastics offers a supportive atmosphere where everyone roots for one another — Islanders and their opponents alike — and there’s no negativity in sight, she said.

Out of the four events she tackles in the all-around competition, Nguyen favors the floor exercise, during which she excels in the tumbling and dancing aspects of the event.

When she’s positioned in the spotlight and strutting through her floor routine, Nguyen said that displaying confidence is key.

For Nguyen and her fellow Islanders, she said it’s essential to “just have fun, smile and just show off your stuff.”

The Reporter asked Nguyen a series of questions to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into her life:

What’s your favorite movie of all time?

If I’m in the mood for a feel-good movie, I love “In the Heights,” which is a musical that came out a few years ago. But if I want a scary movie, I love “Shutter Island.”

How do you spend your spare time?

I’m actually a baker, so I do a lot of baking in my free time. Over quarantine, I pretty much spent all my time baking and just bringing them to friends and family. And I also have three dogs, so I love to take them on hikes, and I do a lot of skiing with my family, and then in the spring, mountain biking. And then in the summer, we go wake surfing a lot.

What are some of your specialties in the kitchen there from baking?

I used to be really into making cakes over Covid. I kind of stopped that because it is like, a full day long process. But when I just want to whip up something quick, my little sister especially loves just plain old chocolate chip cookies. Or I make these ginger molasses cookies that she loves. And this lemon loaf with an icing. It’s really good.

What is a binge-worthy TV series that you’d recommend?

I actually just finished binge watching a show over the weekend. It was “Wednesday,” but with Jenna Ortega, the one that came out. It’s actually an Emmy nominee, but I love re-watching it. It’s a really good series.

What superpower would you like to have?

I would love to read people’s minds.

What would your daily motto be when you wake up in the morning ready to attack the day?

I’m always just kind of like, go with the flow. We’ll see where this day takes me. I don’t like to set too many expectations because they get crushed. It kind of sucks. So for just a daily basis, I’m just like, ‘OK, new day. I wonder what this will bring. Let’s just see how this goes.’”

Bella Nguyen leaps into action on the floor this season. Photo courtesy of Miller Fosseen

Bella Nguyen leaps into action on the floor this season. Photo courtesy of Miller Fosseen