Feb. 21, 2010

By Larry Watts

The sensei knew best. It wasn’t a matter of being wise, just a matter of keeping his own sanity.

“I basically got kicked out of karate,” Ohio State redshirt sophomore Steven Spencer says of his brief experience in the martial arts when he was 5 years old. “The sensei said I was dancing around too much so he told my mother it would be best to try me in something else.

“I was coming to class and trying to do all these rolls, flips and fancy moves while the sensei was trying to keep it plain and simple. He was more interested in teaching me discipline. I guess I had a little too much energy for him.”

So Spencer’s mother enrolled him in a gymnastics class. And he fought it.

“I didn’t want to go that first time,” he says, “but I wound up liking it and never wanted to leave the gym.”

By the age of 15, he was a member of the U.S. Junior National team and he took second on parallel bars and third on high bar at the Junior Olympic Nationals. One year later, the Pleasanton, Calif. native won the state pommel horse and parallel bars titles. In 2004, he was the Region I pommel horse and parallel bars champion and then he took bronze on the pommel horse at the 2006 Junior Olympic Nationals.

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