All-American men’s gymnast Jake Bonnay knows Nebraska is where he wants to be.
Hailing from Burlington, Ontario, Bonnay came to the United States to pursue his passion of gymnastics at the collegiate level. Despite having to adjust to a new training regimen and battle through injuries, Bonnay has shined in Lincoln.
“Jake is an animal while he is competing. He knows how to calm himself yet fire himself up at the same time,” head coach Chuck Chmelka said. “He has that mental toughness that some have but most don’t; it is hard to get that, and he has it.”
Bonnay has compiled an impressive resume during his career at Nebraska. He earned All-American honors during the 2019 season in floor with a score of 14.40 at the NCAA Championships. Bonnay has also been Academic All-Big Ten each of the last two years, was Nebraska Men’s Gymnastics Newcomer of the Year in 2017, was Second-Team All-Big Ten in 2018, and reached the NCAA Individual Event Finals competition in 2017 in high bar.
“It is always a good feeling to be able to see that my own hard work is paying off, but in the moment, when I am able to do a good routine in a competition, it feels good to know I did my part for my team, and I helped my team to be able to succeed,” Bonnay said.
Bonnay battled multiple injuries, including a knee injury that has been a consistent problem during his career, throughout the 2019 season but was still able to post career-bests in both high bar (14.00) and parallel bars (12.95). Bonnay has also made several adjustments in his training routine in order to take better care of his body in hopes of a fully healthy season in 2020.
Chmelka and his coaching staff have worked with Bonnay to limit his reps along with improving and adjusting his routines to help his body better recover going into competitions. Chmelka admits it has been difficult to find the right balance but said he feels that the benefits of doing so will allow Bonnay to finish the season healthier than in the past.
“The main thing is limiting his reps for the more taxing events such as pommel horse to keep his body from taking such a beating and allowing it to rest and recover,” Chmelka said. “It worked very well for him near the end of last year, so we hope that implementing this during his full season will help him remain healthier throughout the entirety of the year.”
As Bonnay enters his final year as a Husker gymnast, he looks back on his time in the United States and, specifically at Nebraska, is content with his decision to join the Huskers.
“Coming here and being able to participate in college-level gymnastics has made me a better person — a better gymnast. I could not be more satisfied not just coming to the states, but coming to Nebraska,” Bonnay said.
Chmelka, having watched Bonnay grow during his time in the program and face the hardships of injury-plagued seasons and the grind of collegiate gymnastics, looks at Bonnay’s growth not just as a gymnast, but as a man as well.
“Everything with him has grown, not just his gymnastics, but he has grown into a man,” Chmelka said. “That is one of the reasons he was voted captain — his teammates have seen his growth and maturation into the person he is now and that is what has made me most proud of Jake. He has faced adversity and worked so hard to overcome it.”