One-handed Kirkland gymnast is one of the best in KingCo | Prep sports

Juanita High School junior Millie Andrilenas is one of the top gymnasts in the state this season. - Sarah Kehoe, Reporter Newspapers
Juanita High School junior Millie Andrilenas is one of the top gymnasts in the state this season.
— image credit: Sarah Kehoe, Reporter Newspapers

One would never notice anything different about Juanita High School junior Millie Andrilenas while watching her gracefully flip and glide through the air during gymnastics practice, except that she is talented and always smiling.

What sets Andrilenas apart from other gymnasts, is that she does everything with only one hand.

"It's exciting for the family to watch Millie during her meets," said Jim Andrilenas, Millie's father. "She is so strong and confident."

Millie was born without her left hand and says it has never stopped her from doing anything.

"It's not something I ever think about and it's never been an issue for me," she said. "A few things are harder for me, sometimes in gymnastics we do conditioning where we exercise a specific muscle and I have a little trouble, but it's no big deal."

It's also not a hinderance for her scores as she competes in all around - including the uneven bars - and is one of the top gymnasts in 3A KingCo.

Millie started doing gymnastics after a friend took her to one of a practice when she was in first grade.

"I saw everyone doing it and flipping around and thought it looked super cool," Millie said. "The first time I tried it out I remember thinking I wanted to keep doing this."

Millie enrolled in a club at Northwest Aerials and placed well in several competitions before stopping her training to move to Ethiopia with her parents for missionary work. Her family lived there for two years.

"I didn't want to go at first, but when I got there I really started to like the culture and the people that were there a lot," Millie said. "It was a great experience."

Millie was eager to get back into gymnastics when she returned to Kirkland. She decided to enroll in her high school's team instead of a club.

"It's so much fun to be competing with my fellow high school students," she said. "High school gymnastics is more fun and not as intense as club."

Millie says her favorite part of gymnastics is the floor competition. She received a 9.6 out of 10 points at her last meet.

Her focus now is qualifying for the state competition at her next meet.

"I really want to make it to state because it is so much fun to be there," Millie said. "There's nothing like hearing your name called out on the floor saying you get to go. It's just thrilling."

Millie isn't sure if she will compete in gymnastics after high school.

"I don't know that I'd want to do it in college competitively, but I know I will always do it in some way, for practice or whatever," she said. "It's always been a really big part of my life."

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