Andrea Bouwhuis is going places.
Andrea Bouwhuis, a senior at Northern, has been a member of the Forest Hills varsity gymnastic team for four years. While she has never excelled in one event or another to the point of earning personal recognition as a superstar, coach Tracy Will freely acknowledges how important Andrea has been to the team. During her tenure, they have won their conference three times, regional’s twice, and finished third in the State. Bouwhuis competes in all four gymnastic events and her consistent performance in all of them has served the team well.
“She contributes to our team score every time she competes,” Will noted. “She represents everything you could ask for as a coach.”
Coach Will went on to praise Andrea for the many ways she adds to the team from supporting her teammates with encouragement to helping the younger members of the team gain confidence. She works with underclassmen with advice on various skills and is even there to give rides to and from practice if needed. The coach considers Andrea “selfless” in regard to her teammates and gave her credit for inspiring them.
If you follow high school gymnastics you know that the balance beam can be the undoing of many individuals and teams. Andrea made it a goal to improve her performance on the beam. In typical fashion, once she set the goal and worked hard towards it, Bouwhuis realized a pay off. Not only has her coach noticed the big improvement on the beam, but Andrea considers it her favorite event.
“It scares me the most, but I enjoy the challenge of learning new tricks on the beam,” Bouwhuis told us.
Setting goals for herself and following through on them are a big part of who Andrea is. She is the youngest of Jerry and Lisa Bouwhuis’ two children and Lisa confided that she has never had to tell her daughter to do her homework. If you talk to anyone about Andrea, sooner or later her incredible intelligence will come into the conversation. She has been a 4.0 and above student since at least the seventh grade and excels in AP level courses like Physics, Statistics, and Spanish. Lisa told us that she has tried to take some of the academic pressure off of her daughter’s shoulders to no avail.
“I told her that it would be okay to get a “B” once in a while, but she didn’t pay any attention to me,” Lisa related with a laugh. “She has always been very independent from her dad and I.”
In addition to the time spent with books that she puts into her studies, Andrea loves to read for fun. But don’t come away with the impression that she is some kind of hermit. Andrea is part of a group of seven young ladies who do a lot together – in fact they are planning a spring trip to Florida for a week in the company of some of their parents. Andrea also loves movies – she recently saw “Yes Man” and reported that even though it was so funny it had her laughing out loud there was a good message in the comedy. Lisa told us that her daughter has always been very outgoing and social – it seems she can be an extrovert and a bookworm at the same time. We also have it on pretty good authority that she can make a mean chocolate chip cookie.
Bouwhuis is a member of the National Honor Society and she has been involved in the Student Council for the past two years. She recently signed on to become a PEER listener partly because of the positive impression the group made on her when they helped kids at Northern deal with the death of a fellow student last year.
As a reward for her academic work and achievements no fewer than three Michigan schools offered her scholarships; Hope, U of M, and Alma. She chose Alma and plans on a double major in the sciences and Spanish. Andrea is thinking of directing her love of chemistry and anatomy into pre-med or possibly bio chemistry engineering.
Lisa, who was a gymnast herself, exposed Andrea to the sport when she was three or four years old.
“It’s good to have kids involved in a sport – it keeps their noses clean,” Lisa commented.
In addition to having a lot of fun and providing a great way to stay in shape, Andrea has enjoyed the challenges of the sport. She told us that she “enjoys flipping around” and related that the toughest trick she has mastered so far is a “round off with a handspring in a layout position.” She appreciates the positive attitudes and supportive nature of her teammates and commented about her coach’s ability to “make practice positive.”
While she is a tough competitor who plays to win, Andrea also recognizes that winning isn’t everything. Her mom related that on the night before we spoke the Forest Hills team lost to Mona Shores by a very slim margin, but that didn’t keep Andrea from being her upbeat, chipper self and passing cookies out with a big smile.
With her energy, talent and enthusiasm, we have no doubt Andrea Bouwhuis will continue to have a positive impact wherever life takes her.