Leah was born in Commerce, Michigan on November 5, 2000 to parents Mark and Tara Clapper. Active and extremely coordinated, she taught herself how to do backward somersaults when she was 1. Leah was enrolled in gymnastics classes since she was a toddler. She would turn the couch and its cushions into a trampoline during her younger years, and creating tumbling pits out of pillows and blankets was a favorite past time of hers.
Leah began pre-team gymnastic competitions at age 6, and joined the competitive team at Gym America in Ann Arbor, MI at age 7. She qualified as a TOPs Gold team member at age 7. Next year, when she was 8, Leah travelled to the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center at the Karolyi Ranch in Huntsville, Texas as a TOPs National Qualifier. Leah became a member of the TOPs B Team in 2009, and, therefore, travelled back to the National Team Training Center for camp just after turning 9. Leah returned to Texas in 2010 when she again qualified to TOPs Nationals. Leah qualified to TOPs Nationals both years she was eligible.
Leah was the Level 7 State Champion on floor in 2010. As a Level 8 in 2011, Leah placed 2nd AA at several meets including “Battle of Champions” (Toledo, OH), “Circle of Stars” (Indianapolis, IN), “Buckeye Classic” (Columbus, OH), and “Wolverine Classic” (Saline, MI). She qualified to the Michigan team at Level 8 State Championships, and finished 5th AA at Level 8 Region 5 Championships with a 37.025.Leah began competing Level 9 when she was 11-years old. That year she won 1st all-around at the well-known “Chicago Style” meet. In 2013, Leah placed 2nd at the Level 9 Region 5 Championships with an AA score of 38.050. This qualified her to compete at Level 9 Eastern Nationals in May 2013. Leah placed 3rd on beam and 7th AA at Eastern Nationals.
At age 13, Leah started competing Level 10. She had much success during her first year of Level 10, winning 1st AA at “Flip Like an Egyptian” (Lansing, MI), and 2nd AA at “MEGA Magic Classic” (Ypsilanti, MI), “UGA Invitational” (Tinley Park, IL), “Wolverine Classic” (Saline, MI), and “Tim Rand” (Fort Lauderdale, FL). Leah placed 6th AA at the Level 10 Michigan State Meet. At Regionals she then qualified to compete at the JO NIT in 2014. Leah placed 7th FX, 10th UB, and 12th AA at JO NIT in Jackson, MS.During this 2014-15 season, Leah has been competing Level 10 while also training for elite. She won the AA in Level 10 at “Buckeye Classic” (Columbus, OH), and “Wolverine Classic” (Saline, MI). Leah placed 2nd AA at “Gymnastics on the Grand” (Grand Rapids, MI), “CGA Coaches Spectacular” (Covington, KY), and “Gasparilla Classic” (St. Petersburg, FL). In March, Leah qualified her elite compulsories at “Tim Rand” (Ft. Lauderdale, FL), placing 2nd AA at the elite qualifier with a 36.825. At the 2015 Michigan Level 10 State Meet, Leah placed 4th BB and 4th AA with a 37.450. Leah qualified to JO Nationals at the 2015 Level 10 Region 5 Championships, earning 2nd BB and 6th AA with a 37.300. Competing for the Region 5 Dream Team at JO Nationals in Des Moines, IA, Leah placed 5th on Bars, 9th on Floor, and 15th AA with a 37.525. Additionally, her Junior B Dream Team from Region 5 finished 1st at JO National Championships among all JO sessions with a team score 153.650. In the 2015-2016 season Leah competed both Level 10 and Elite. Leah had continued success, and some of her major accomplishments include 2nd AA at the Michigan State Championships, 3rd AA at Region 5 Championships, and 7th AA at JO Nationals with a 37.950. She also placed 4th on Floor and 5th on Beam at Nationals. Her Junior D Region 5 Dream Team finished 1st as well. Leah made the Region 5 All Star Team which traveled to Costa Rica, and she received the “Region 5 Gymnastics Insider” Award for “Most Entertaining Routine” (Floor). Leah qualified Elite at the Brestyan’s Las Vegas Invitational, hitting all her routines and posting a Senior Elite Qualifying score of 53.000. Leah competed at both the American Classic and U.S. Secret Classic. She enjoyed the experience at her first podium meet in Hartford, CT. For the 2016-2017 season Leah competed as a Senior Elite. She opened the season at the Metroplex Challenge. In the open division she was AA champion and won three events. Her first optional qualifier of the season was Brestyan’s Las Vegas Elite. At Brestyan’s she achieved her Senior Elite classic qualifying score and was 4th AA. In Leah’s next two optional meets she won AA at the City of Lights and KPAC Cup Elite Optional Qualifiers. At the 2017 American Classic Leah was 2nd all-around, and took third in balance beam and floor. She also achieved her P&G Championship qualifying score at the American Classic. At the 2017 U.S. Secret Classic in Chicago, Illinois, she was 12th AA, taking 10th in the floor exercise. To wrap up her Senior Elite season, Leah took 15th at the 2017 P&G Senior Women’s all-around in Anaheim, California. She had a great experience at her first P&G Championships. At the conclusion of the 2017 season Leah earned a spot to the Region 5 Elite Ambassador Team. As a member of the Elite Ambassador team Leah had the opportunity to travel to Trinidad & Tobago. In the capital city of Port-of-Spain, she took part in training and learning sessions with Olympia Gymnastics Club. Additionally, the group had the chance to explore Trinidad’s beauty and culture. In Leah’s 2017-2018 Senior season, she elected to return to Level 10 before the beginning of the season. After some work to reconfigure her routines. Leah enjoyed success and competing with her younger sister Lily, who was a first year Level 10. In her final J.O. season Leah scored a 38.15 or higher 5 times. Was all around Champion 4 times, and was an event or all around champion 15 times. Some of her meet highlights include the following. Posting the highest score of all sessions and winning the all around at the 2018 City of Lights Meet. She was vault champion and 2nd all around at the Michigan State Meet. At Region 5 Championships she was the all around and bars regional champion.
Leah concluded her J.O. career at the Junior Olympic National Championships in Cincinnati, OH. She competed in Olympic order finishing her club career on floor, one of her favorite events. Leah placed in the top 10 on floor (9.550 8th) and all around (38.150 9th), and placed 11th on bars (9.600). Also Leah’s scores contributed to her Region 5 Dream Team team winning 1st place in the Senior D age group.At Leah’s Senior Club banquet, Leah received a few distinguished honors. For becoming the person that Gym America displays, gymnastics today, character for life! Leah received the “character for life award”. For her Senior Elite career achievements Leah’s picture is hanging on the wall of fame at Gym America. Additionally, Coach Zook presented Leah with a plaque on his top 10 list for Leah’s career. The list captures some of the top highlights for Leah’s club career.
Brian Zook’s Top 10 list for Leah:
10. Scoring a 9.8 on vault Twistars Invitational 2018
9. Winning level 10 Regionals 2018
8. Full ride scholarship to University of Florida
7. 3x J.O. National qualifier
6. Making your first Elite floor routine; full-in, double arabian, double tuck, double pike
5. Hard work you put into becoming an Elite
4. Qualifying into the Elite program
3. Qualifying to US Secret Classic
2. Qualifying to USA Championships
1. Becoming the person that Gym America displays, gymnastics today, character for life!