On Wednesday, Nov. 11, surrounded by family, coaches and other supporters, Frankfort's Hope Kiszka signed to continue her academic and athletic careers with the Acrobatics and Tumbling team at Fairmont State University.

By Chapin Jewell
Tribune Correspondent
On Wednesday, Nov. 11, surrounded by family, coaches and other supporters, Frankfort’s Hope Kiszka signed to continue her academic and athletic careers with the Acrobatics and Tumbling team at Fairmont State University.
In doing so, Kiszka will trade a Columbia Blue and Silver Falcon for a Falcon that’s Maroon and White. Hope also will join her older brother Noah on the campus at Fairmont State, as Noah wrestles for the Fighting Falcons.
In her own words, Kiszka describes acrobatics as “involving a lot of skill and mental toughness in putting people up in the air.”  She describes tumbling as “involving a lot of physical and mental ability to be able to do the flips.”
Skill, mental toughness, physical and mental ability, Hope Kiszka has all of these traits in spades. Born with a limb difference, Kiszka explains that her “Lucky Fin” as she calls it, has been simultaneously a source of challenge but also inspiration and motivation.
“My limb difference has been a challenge to me in some ways. Sometimes if I tumble too much, my hand gets sore. If I do certain skills it hurts for a while. When I do certain stunts I have to rearrange the placements of my hand. My arm does motivate me. If I cannot do something (my mom hates when I say that), I get really down on myself,” Hope explains.
“But, I will not stop pushing myself until it is achieved. I look at myself and I wonder how I even do the things I do. Knowing that I’ll be the only limb difference participant in program history makes me feel very inspiring, but also I am just a regular person. I don't want people to look at me and think that, I want them to be proud of me for me, and my Lucky Fin,” Kiszka explained.
A cheerleader and gymnast since childhood, Kiszka developed her skillset in the area of acrobatics and tumbling through countless hours of hard work and training over many years.
“I realized I could do this sport in college when my tumbling started to progress, and I was doing skills more easily then I was before,” Hope stated.
In preparation for the rigors of college academia and athletics, Kiszka has made the most of her educational and athletic opportunities at Frankfort High School.
“Frankfort has prepared me for college academically by always making sure I have the grades I needed, or pushed me to the best of my ability. One teacher specifically who has always encouraged me is Mr. Cowgill,” Kiszka stated.
Mr. Cowgill is Kenn Cowgill, history and government teacher at the Short Gap school.  Cowgill had these words to share about Kiszka, “Hope is a special young lady. When you think about the definition of student athlete, you will find Hope Kiszka. She is as dedicated in the classroom as she is on the floor.  She always has a smile on her face.”
According to Cowgill, “Above all else though, she is a wonderful and kind young lady who will have many successes in her sport, the classroom, and in life. It has truly been my pleasure to have her in the classroom.”
“Frankfort cheerleading has prepared me for college athletically by always pushing me to do my skills, even when I am tired. I would not be where I am today if they didn't push me so hard,” Hope explains.
According to Frankfort head cheerleading coach Lisa Moreland, “Hope has been a part of the FHS cheer squad for four years. She has also competed on our competition squad all four of those years. Hope has always displayed a strong work ethic and dedication to her sport. She is not only talented, but works hard to achieve new goals that she sets for herself.  Hope has an amazing drive and does not let anything get in the way of reaching her goals, including her limb difference.”
“This has never held her back from tumbling, basing for stunts, or performing in any way. She has always done whatever it takes to be able to do the same skills as everyone on her team. Hope is a true inspiration for others and it is an honor to coach her. On a personal level, Hope has been my son’s ‘girl’ for several years and has become part of our family,” Moreland explained.
According to Moreland, “As someone who is fortunate enough to know Hope on this level, it is more than evident that she has a caring personality and is loved by everyone who meets her.  She has a huge heart and genuinely cares about the people in her life.  The A & T team at Fairmont State will be lucky to have Hope as part of their team.”
In addition to the tremendous foundation she’s received at Frankfort High School, both scholastically and in the sports arena, Kiszka cites her family, friends, boyfriend and his family as being her biggest supporters.
With tremendous individual determination and a history of hard work and dedication that has produced successful results in all she does, Kiszka’s potential for accomplishment at the next level is limitless. She takes solace also in knowing she’s chosen the right place to pursue her goals.
“I chose Fairmont State because it is not too far away from home. Also, I have a brother that attends the school as a student athlete, and I’ve heard such amazing things. I chose the Acro and Tumbling team because I have been doing gymnastics for so many years. What I liked most about Fairmont was how nice and helpful the coaches were when I had questions, and when I chose to sign,” Hope explains.
Hope Kiszka is special. Special not because of her limb difference, though her ability to overcome the challenges it presents in her chosen sports of cheerleading and gymnastics most certainly serves as an inspiration to others.  Hope Kiszka is special because she gives her all to everything she does with a smile on her face and a dedication second to none.
Fairmont State will soon find out just how special Hope Kiszka is. We’ve known it for years.