Finally healthy and happy, Roslyn gymnast Green looks for big year

Finally healthy and happy, Roslyn gymnast Green looks for big year
Roslyn sophomore Riley Green placed fourth in counties on uneven bars last season, and looks to do better in 2024. Photo courtesy of Riley Green

It is a statement startling in its uniqueness. You hardly ever hear someone say what Riley Green just did.

But it really shouldn’t be.

For decades now, outstanding high school athletes have seen grades 9-12 as a stepping stone. The prep years are where legends begin to get made, where the cement and granite of a career get laid, and shine begins to emerge. There has always been, for 99.95 of athletes, the dream of getting into college on a scholarship and continuing their career there.

Doesn’t matter the sport, doesn’t matter if there’s a professional league to aspire to after college: the goal is always the same: Get four more years out of your body and continue doing what you love.

That’s why the questioner is fairly stunned by the answer when Green, a sophomore standout on the Roslyn gymnastics team, is asked where she wants to go to college, and if she’s started to get recruiting letters.

“I don’t want to do competitive gymnastics anymore after this,” Green said before a recent practice. “If there’s a club team where I end up going, maybe I’d do that. But that’s it.”

Green’s further explanation makes perfect sense, especially for a 15-year-old who’s had a litany of injuries in a mat career that’s been going on for half her life.

“It’s normally every girl’s dream to compete in college or the Olympics, but I’ve realized over time that I might want to live the life of a normal college student,” Green added. “I’m not sure I’d want to spend all those hours in the gym, the huge number of hours you need to compete at that level.

“I just don’t think I’m going to go down that road.”

It’s a refreshing answer for a kid who, as dedicated as she is to her sport, acknowledges that there are other things in life.

Green, 15, has just begun her sophomore season as a Bulldog, but is already making her mark. She missed most of her freshman season thanks to a scary injury suffered one day before high school practice started last fall.

Green was practicing at her club facility, Hot Shots of Plainview, when she was dismounting off the uneven bars and over-rotated, slamming her back and head on the ground.

Green suffered a concussion and was then diagnosed with a stress fracture in her back, her most serious injury of her career, she said.

“I was really disappointed because everyone has said how high school gymnastics is so fun, and a completely different environment with the support and the cheering,” Green said. “But I knew I had to give my body a chance to rest and recover.”

After sitting out most of the 2022-23 season, Green was medically cleared to do only one event, the uneven bars, her best. And she made the most of that chance, placing fourth in the Nassau County meet and qualifying for states, where she finished 13th.

None of that was a surprise to Roslyn coach Stephanie Orfini.

“What makes her so great is she’s just such a consistent athlete,” Orfini said. “She doesn’t ever give away deductions; her toes are always pointed properly, her legs are always straight. It’s just very hard to do what she does, every time.”

Green is humbled and almost embarrassed to say that what she hears most from opposing gymnasts and coaches is ‘wow, your technique is beautiful and unmatched.'”

“It’s a very nice compliment and it comes from doing gymnastics for so long that a lot of it comes naturally now,” Green said. “You have to work to keep it.”

Green’s gymnastics journey started when she was a toddler, as the coaches at Little Gym told mom Karen that her kid is showing very impressive skill for a child her age.
Green began competitive gymnastics around age 8, and while she’s had other injuries along the way, she’s loved the sport ever since.

“My mom films all my matches but can’t watch,” Green said, laughing. “She says ‘I can film it, but I can’t bear to look at it. And I tell her ‘Mom, if you’re scared, imagine how I feel!”

Healthy enough to compete in all events this season, Green is looking to get back to states, possibly win counties, and perhaps get a state medal in the uneven bars, her best event.

“She’s been working on more difficult bar routines, and add a harder dismount, and doing things at higher levels,” Orfini said. “She has a real chance to win something at counties and beyond.”

With a few years of gymnastics left, Green said she’s thought about a career in sports psychology. As an elite athlete she’s had plenty of time to think about the pressures kids like her face, and she wants to help.

“I know how hard it can be on you mentally, always trying to be at your best and having to face competition all the time,” Green said. “I think I’d like to be someone who can talk to kids and help them through it.”


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