KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
July 8, 2021
By Natalie Cook Clark
Katy has served as the home away from home for Cayman Island’s first Olympic gymnast for over 5 years. Raegan Rutty makes history later this month at the Tokyo Olympic Games and she takes her love for Katy with her.
Photo Credit: Ricardo Bufolin Images
A 4-Year-Old’s Dream
“As long as I could remember, I wanted to go to the Olympics,” says 19-year-old gymnast Raegan Rutty. She recalls watching America’s Shawn Johnson at the 2008 games on the beam. “I was like ‘I want to do that.’”
Rutty started training in her home country of the Cayman Islands, where her family has lived for eight generations, at the young age of 4 and doesn’t recall a day when gymnastics wasn’t serious to her.
She showed talent and most of all, heart but when she was 14-years-old she had exhausted the resources in her home country. To continue chasing her Olympic dream, Rutty would need to leave home and go to another country to continue her training.
Her Journey to Katy
After her Cayman coaches and parents conducted research, they believed that Texas was the place for her to go. For about a year, she and her mom commuted from the Caymans to Dallas where she trained and met with various coaches. That is where she met Eddie and Johnnie Umphrey.
Eddie is a skilled gymnast who competed at Michigan State. His older brother, Chainey helped the United States land a 5th place finish at the 1996 Olympic games. Eddie’s wife, Johnnie competed at Oregon State. The married gymnast duo took to coaching and saw something truly special in Reagan.
“She is awesome,” says Eddie. “When she came to us, she said she wanted to go to the Olympics. 90% of the students that come to us say that, but few put in the effort to make it happen.”
The Umphreys own Grace Gymnastics, a sports club in Katy that rents space and operates out of Showcase Gymnastics off of Mason Road.
The Umphreys have been coaching Rutty now for close to 6 years. She followed them first to the Memorial area and then they have been training in Katy for a little over 5 years. This is when Rutty left her Cayman home for good (no more commuting with mom) and started living on her own.
Finding a Home in Katy
“She’s made sacrifices that most of us can’t imagine,” says Eddie. “She moved from her family, home, and friends and has lived with 4 different host families.”
But for Rutty, the journey has been worth it. She’s living her dream now as a qualified gymnast for the Tokyo Olympic games and the first ever gymnast to represent her home country of the Cayman Islands.
And Katy, Texas has played a huge role in shaping her American experience.
“I thought going to Sonic was the American dream,” gushes Rutty. “I love Chick-fil-a and Whataburger.”
While these are common eateries for us, they have been new to Rutty as none of them are in the Cayman Islands.
“I love looking for ducks in Katy,” says Reagan. “They are everywhere, especially In LaCenterra I chase them and feed them.”
During her time experiencing “Katy Life” she has enjoyed Texas football and made friends at Katy high schools, evening attending two homecoming dances.
To the average Katyite that runs into her, they would think she is a normal teenager, but she is anything but. Rutty Trains 35 hours a week working towards her dream.
“Right now, it is all about getting ready for the Olympics,” explains Rutty. “Before it was about focusing on each competition at a time.”
Her strongest event is bars.
Upping her Game
“We’re trying to throw in a single bar release and a Zova technique that is very unique,” says Eddie. “Few gymnasts do it.”
With a Zova technique, she releases from the high bar to low bar with a front flip and half twist.
“I also really love my floor routine,” says Rutty. “It’s very upbeat and fun.”
The Umphreys have been working with her to add difficulty to her routines that can bump her scores up a point or two in the games.
Rutty is very aware of the exceptional skill of some of the other Olympic gymnasts training around the greater Houston areas, such as American super talent Simone Biles.
“I follow the sport and I know of the athletes that everyone is watching but I’m not intimidated by them,” says Rutty. “I’m competing for myself and my county. This is my dream!”
Rutty appreciates her Katy support, especially the support of her host families over the years and the Umphreys, who have become her family.
Photo Credit: Ricardo Bufolin Images
Her family in the Cayman Islands, including her older sister her first inspired her to start the sport, will be watching her compete from their home country because of COVID restrictions.
“COVID definitely changes things and takes away from the crowd and my family being able to attend, but this is my moment,” says Rutty.
It was announced today, July 8, that due to a surge in COVID cases in Tokyo that the Olympic games will go on as planned but without any spectators.
She will have her Katy coaches and they are truly proud.
“She has put in what is required and is living her dream,” says Eddie. “It’s a blessing that she chose us to bring her dream to reality.”
The Umphreys hope that Rutty will be the first of many Olympians that will train with them as they work to grow and eventually get their own gym in Katy.
Plans to Embrace it ALL
“I’m excited to embrace it all,” says Rutty. “I’ve worked for this my entire life. I’m the first Olympic gymnasts the Cayman Islands has ever had. It is a historic honor.”
The Cayman Islands will have 5 athletes, including Rutty that will compete in the games.
When asked how Katy can follow Rutty at the games, she quickly pointed out that as a 19-year-old she is extremely active on social media.
You can follow her on Instagram at: @RaeganRutty and @RaeganRuttyGymnastics, where she posts helpful tutorials for aspiring gymnasts and future Olympians.
The Tokyo Olympic games were scheduled for last summer but were postponed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The games start July 23, 2021 and go through August 8, 2021.
“I just hope I can remember it all,” says Rutty. “I want to soak it all in!
MORE KATY MAGAZINE
Follow Katy Magazine on Facebook for more current news.