Widener, a 17-year-old senior at Glacier Peak High School, signed her letter last Thursday, then celebrated with teammates and other club members at Everett's Leading Edge Gymnastics Academy on Wednesday.
"A scholarship is awesome," Widener said. "With all the money that college costs nowadays, it's very expensive. So to know that I've worked toward a goal and that I've finally reached it, and now that it's paying for my school, is amazing."
Widener was offered a scholarship by first-year Bears coach Danna Durante during an official recruiting visit earlier this year.
The Berkley campus "is just so beautiful," said Widener, who hopes to major in bio-engineering. During her visit she had the chance to meet with faculty members, "and just talking to different professors and hearing about what they're working on, the discoveries they're making, it'd be awesome to be part of that. So I can't wait."
Widener started gymnastics as a 5-year-old girl in Augusta, Ga. When the family moved to Snohomish in 2002, she began training at Leading Edge under owner Sheila Bath and the club's many coaches. Widener started competing at Level 10 in 2010, and at last weekend's Region II Championships in Beaverton, Ore., Widener tied for second in all-around (36.125) and placed first in floor exercise (9.475) in the Senior C Division.
As she progressed in gymnastics, Widener said, "my plan was always to (compete) in college, whether I got the scholarship or not. I would've walked on to a team, so to get the scholarship is like an added bonus."
Kelle Riley, a Leading Edge coach who has worked with Widener for 10 years, said she stood out even as a 7-year-old.
"She had the perfect body for gymnastics," Riley said. "She was born an athlete, so physically gymnastics was really easy for her. ... She progressed right up through our system just perfectly. She's a hard worker, a great kid, and she's trained hard to get to where she's at."
Widener will be one of two Snohomish County products on the California team. Freshman Maddie Kratzke attended Edmonds-Woodway High School and trained at the Seattle Gymnastics Academy.
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