top of page

Raising the High Bar: Tucker Yasunaga Goes to Berkeley

Updated: Apr 22, 2023

Gymnastics has always played a role in Tucker Yasunaga’s life. But the role just got a lot bigger.

No matter how good the athlete, pursuing a sport in college is difficult. For a gymnast, there are only twelve Division I programs in the United States, and three of them are associated with military academies. So you can imagine the relief Tucker felt in his coach’s office when he heard the news that he had been invited to be an NCAA gymnast at the elite University of California, Berkeley, which admits only eleven percent of its applicants.

Gymnastics practice has been a constant in Tucker’s life. His mom enrolled him as a toddler in classes at the YMCA, where he met his current coach, Ian Dennehy. They connected so well that when Ian left the YMCA to start his own gym, Tucker followed him there. That gym, Champaign Gymnastics Academy, is where Tucker spends most of his nights, either developing his skills or coaching younger kids. All those nights training and teaching at the gym paid off, vaulting Tucker to the highest possible level of the USA Gymnastics Junior Olympics program.

Although it will be hard to leave his gym family behind, Tucker is excited to start his college gymnastics career in California. Something stood out to Tucker about Cal. Academically, UC Berkeley is consistently ranked as the best public university in the world. Athletically, the California Golden Bears have won a total of 101 national team titles and 121 Olympic gold medals. To Tucker, no other university could compare to UC Berkeley.

During a visit to Cal over Thanksgiving, Tucker got the opportunity to sit in on some practices, meet with coaches, and bond with his future teammates. He took a tour of the campus and the sports facilities. After the tour, it seemed like everything fell into place. Soon after the visit, Tucker officially committed to the University of California, Berkeley.

While looking forward to a promising future, Tucker is excited to meet new challenges academically and face new competition athletically. He hopes for a multitude of championships, followed by Olympic trials. But at the end of the day, he wants “to be the best Tucker I can be.”

— Bethany Jackson, class of '23


Recent Posts

See All


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page