Mount Shasta’s Alicea DiPillo isn’t afraid of hard work. At 13 years old, the Sisson eighth grader spends 16 to 20 hours each week pursuing her passion – gymnastics.

Mount Shasta’s Alicea DiPillo isn’t afraid of hard work. At 13 years old, the Sisson eighth grader spends 16 to 20 hours each week pursuing her passion – gymnastics.

Over the weekend, her hard work paid off. Alicea was awarded three medals, earning first place on vault, sixth place on floor and 12th place all around in the Northern California Level 5 State Championships, held in Union City on Saturday.

After taking Sunday off, Alicea was back in the gym Monday, training for Level 6.

“She’s just crazy about gymnastics,” said Alicea’s mom, Sherri Degraffenreid. “She’s very dedicated.”

Alicea began gymnastics classes when she was three years old. When she was 10, she took her love of the sport one step further, and began competing.

Alicea is coached in Mount Shasta by Melissa Marconi, owner of Mt. Shasta Gymnastics. Because there’s no competitive gym team in Mount Shasta, Alicea also trains with Athletics Unlimited in Anderson with coaches Shawn Perry, JD MacDonald and Jaymie Avery.

Because she stays in Anderson every weekend, she’s given up cheerleading, ballet and tap dance classes, as well as school dances, sleepovers and birthday parties – things many 13 year olds wouldn’t want to go without.

“She never complains... she’s very dedicated,” Sherri said of her daughter’s busy schedule.

Alicea smiled. “Gymnastics is a sport you have to be dedicated to, you can’t go out there and do it half heartedly. It’s a great challenge, and I like challenging myself.”

Alicea prides herself on not only being a great gymnast, but also an honor roll student. In addition to gymnastics, Alicea enjoys singing, and has just been chosen to participate in Select Choir. Last year, she played the starring role in Sisson’s production of Annie.

“We’re really busy,” laughed Sheri, who is deeply involved with Cubco, has two other young children and a full time job.

“My mom’s my main supporter,” Alicea said. “She encourages me, and always tells me I did a good job... my second biggest supporter is my friend, Hennaly Patel.”

“Alicia has a contract with her team in Anderson that says she has to put in 16 hours a week in the gym, but she’s there 16 to 20 hours every week,” Sherri said.

Monday through Thursday, Alicea’s at the Mount Shasta Gym from 3 to 6 p.m., and on Fridays, she travels to Anderson, where she works with Athletics Unlimited from 4 to 8 p.m.

Then she stays the night with team members to practice on Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Qualifying to compete at State is an accomplishment in itself. Only 14 13 year olds  from Northern California made it, Alicea said.

Though she doesn’t see herself making gymnastics a career, she said she’ll pursue it as far as she can, or until she doesn’t want to do it anymore.

“Right now, I’m focusing all my efforts on gym,” she said. “Gymnastics inspires you to do your best, and that’s what I?like about it.”