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Saturday, May 25, 2024

INTERESTING TEEN: Sophia Rocca of Frelinghuysen – Gymnast Advances to Nationals with North Stars

Photo credit granted by Justin Schrading for

Dancing on a balance beam, expertly flying and tumbling through the air, Sophia Rocca of Frelinghuysen shows extraordinary poise honed from intense training and advanced with her North Stars Gymnastics Academy of Boonton team to Nationals in April.

Rocca, Class of 2028, Jr. B (All-Star Session/event specialist-beam) participates in their North Stars Gymnastics Academy Homeschool Program as an eighth grader, scoring 9.275 in bars and first place with 9.650 on the beam at the USAG Region 7 Regionals held at the Nittany Valley Sports Center in State College, Pennsylvania April 11-14.

The 14-year-old daughter of Michael and Nicole Rocca said she started at 18 months old at a Mommy & Me class and immediately knew she loved tumbling.

With her father having been a high school wrestler and mom having run in the New York Marathon, both her parents were primed to encourage young Sophia to excel at gymnastics.

“I knew I loved it as a kid and knew I wanted to continue,” said Sophia. “I started training when I was 6 and joined the team in third grade. Beam is definitely my favorite.”

Her father Michael corroborated that, “She’s incredibly focused when she has a task to do.”

Photo credit granted by Justin Schrading for
Photo credit granted by Justin Schrading for
Photo credit granted by Justin Schrading for

Today, her training schedule is 8 a.m. to noon with about a two-hour break, then back at it until 4 p.m., Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. North Stars homeschool program is augmented by having two teachers at the gym for when she’s studying.

“I hope to do gymnastics in college and would like to take up part-time coaching for kids,” said Rocca.

Sophia has an older brother, Nicholas, who attends Blair Academy and four pet siblings – two cats and two golden retrievers. When she’s not at the gym, she enjoys building advanced Lego sets and listening to audio books.

According to North Stars’ April 17 press release, the North Stars Gymnastics Academy had 12 national qualifiers from its USAG National Women’s Development Program, with one of its gymnasts dominating the national field scoring the highest all-around among all level 10s at the annual U.S. regional meets.

After intense competition, six level 10 gymnasts and six level 9s from North Stars Gymnastics qualified at the USAG Region 7 Regionals.

The USAG Gymnastics Women’s Program is comprised of eight regions throughout the nation, representing all 50 states. Region 7 Gymnastics is the governing body of USAG gymnastics representing Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. The top seven all-around finishers and one alternate from each age group qualify to represent Region 7 nationally. Ten is the top score gymnasts could receive for each event including balance beam, uneven bars, floor exercise and vault. All-around scores are comprised from all four events with 40 as the highest.

In line with North Stars’ long-standing tradition of excellence, senior Olivia Kelly of Mahwah earned the highest all-around score among all level 10s from the eight USAG regions with a 39.425. The Missouri Women’s Gymnastics Team also won the top spot at the New Jersey Level 10 State Championship last month.

“We are proud to have so many of our talented athletes qualify to compete at these prestigious events,” said Ashley Umberger, CEO, part owner and head coach North Stars Gymnastics Academy. “Their hard work, dedication and perseverance have paid off, earning them an opportunity to compete and showcase their skills on a national level.”

The Level 10s will compete in the USAG Development Program 2024 National Championship May 9-12 at the Volusia County Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Florida. The top four all-around athletes from each age division will make up the USA Development Program National Team and receive an invitation to participate in a special training camp. The event will be streamed live via a subscription service.

About North Stars: North Stars Gymnastics Academy has been a national training center in Morris County for 50 years with female gymnasts earning placements and awards at the national and international levels. It boasts medalists in USA Championships, Goodwill Games, Pan American Games, Pacific Alliance Championships and competitions in France, South Korea, England, Russia, Bulgaria, Colombia, U.S. Olympic Trials and more. North Stars prides itself on its ability to train athletes to build the necessary skills to secure athletic and academic college scholarships. To learn more about North Stars, visit


Desiree Dunn
Desi L. Dunn, Managing Editor
Managing Editor at Desiree L. Dunn, LLC

Born & educated in NY with an Environmental Science degree from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Desi's family resides in Hardwick with a young teen and several spoiled pets. Considering northwest Jersey to be a true gem, her commitment to the people and environs is exemplified by the many different jobs she's had - municipal & county official, election clerk, open space plan writer, newspaper & radio journalist, grant writer, events coordinator and farm market manager as well as retail, waitressing, archaeological digger and once for a short while in a very huge warehouse.

Her favorite was as a reporter for many years with the Recorder newspapers, Blairstown Press, Paulinskill Chronicle, Gannett publications plus WNTI Public Radio producing public affairs and human interest stories on-air.

She often has her camera ready to capture interesting people and events. She's thrilled to now serve as RVE's Managing Editor, helping fellow writers hone their skills and show you the issues as well as treasures that exist in North Warren, through their eyes.