Hillary Ferguson’s energy was harnessed at a young age and has now developed into a college scholarship opportunity.

The Madison County native’s spirit and vivacious activity left her mother looking for something for her three-year-old to do.

“I started when I was three because my mom thought I was really hyper and I liked to flip over the couch,” Ferguson said. “So my grandmother told her to put me into something.”

It started out as power-tumbling and progressed into gymnastics and this past year the high school senior signed with the University of Kentucky to continue her career in college.

Ferguson is the first Madison Countian to go to college on a gymnastic scholarship and UK was not the only school after the talented gymnast.

Nebraska, Boise State, Michigan State, Ohio State and Auburn were also showing interest in the Madison Central High School athlete, but staying close to home was a deciding factor.

“It’s really exciting for it to become a reality and know that people really do want you,” Ferguson said about receiving college offers. “It’s kind of exciting and stressful at the same time, but I’m glad I stayed close to home.”

The Lady Wildcat coach Mo Muhammad has also been Ferguson’s club coach during her years of competing with All-American Gymnastics.

Ferguson is a three-time state champion with the club team and has qualified for nationals twice. She has experienced highs individually and on the team.

“The one I’m most proud of is in 2004 as a team Region 5 won nationals and I was a part of that team,” Ferguson said about her favorite moment in her illustrious career. “I placed third on the vault in 2004 and the third on the floor in 2004 and in 2005 at nationals, which is like something that you just don’t ever see yourself experiencing.”

And while most of gymnastics is rules and regulations, Ferguson enjoys the one area where flare is a positive.

“I like to compete on the floor. It’s my favorite,” she said. “It’s just fun you get to dance and showoff. You get to put a little personality into it.”

But, it has been the beam where she has experienced maybe her most growth. Not surprisingly as most gymnasts struggle with the 16.4 feet long and four inches wide apparatus.

“The beam is fun for me now, a few years ago it wasn’t so fun,” Ferguson said. “All gymnasts split the beam. We all crash on the beam. Now it’s like a really skinny floor, I guess you could call it. Cause you don’t really go if you are thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is really four inches.’ So you just kind of have to use your technique and pray that you land on the beam.”

Along with staying close to home, Ferguson will also join a program where one of her childhood favorites competed.

UK’s Jenny Hansen, a 13-time All-American, dominated the sport by winning eight NCAA championship titles, including three straight all-around titles. And just this past April she was named NCAA’s most outstanding gymnast in the last 25 years.

“Actually Jenny Hansen is like my favorite,” Ferguson said. “I had all her posters when I was little. And it’s really crazy I actually met her for the first time in October and got to talk to her at my coach’s wedding. I was so star struck.”

And Ferguson hopes that her signing a college scholarship can be an inspiration to some of the young girls she has worked with over the years. Encouraging them to stick with the sport even through the rough times that come with being a gymnast. Stick with it because anything can happen she says.

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