When Kyra Burns signed her letter of intent last fall, she passed on the signing ceremony at Blue Springs High School. The recognition, she figured, could come during another ceremony later in the year.


That ceremony never came. The COVID-19 pandemic took care of that, along with the rest of her senior year and gymnastics season.


“I don’t regret anything that’s happened so far,” Burns said. “Everything happens for a reason.”


Rather than look back at what’s been lost, Burns has kept looking ahead toward her future. The letter she signed last fall was to compete in gymnastics at Missouri, and focusing on that promise has helped her endure having her world put on hold.


“Looking forward has definitely kept me motivated,” Burns said in a phone interview. “It makes me more excited for quarantine to be done and what I can do in the future.”


Burns created that future at Xtreme Gymnastics in Lee’s Summit, rising through the ranks to become a level 10 gymnast. A four-time Junior Olympics national qualifier, she was the national all-around uneven bars champion in 2018 and national runner-up in vault last year. She’s also a two-time Region 4 all-around champion.


Burns earned those honors with career-best scores of 9.9 in the vault, 9.75 on the bars, 9.7 in floor exercise, 9.2 on the balance beam and 38.325 all-around. Her vault score may be better, but Burns believes her strength lies in the uneven bars.


“I just love bars,” Burns said. “I used to struggle on it a lot. But as time went on I got better and learned to love it.


Those accomplishments drew Mizzou’s attention, and Burns happily inked her letter with the Tigers last November. More attention would have been nice, but it didn’t seem very necessary at the time.


“I signed already so I was proud of that,” said Burns, who turned 18 on Wednesday. “I don’t feel like I needed to sign in front of a whole bunch of people. I just felt like I needed to sign for myself.


“I’m super excited to go to Mizzou. As soon as I got on campus it all just felt right.”


Burns won’t be on campus until this fall, and that depends on how long the coronavirus lockdown lasts. Normally she would be training for nationals now, but that meet has been wiped out with the rest of the season. And Xtreme Gymnastics is closed, so she can’t work out there either.


Like so many other athletes in limbo, she’s doing what she can from home to be ready for next fall.


“Right now we’re doing Zoom workouts as a team,” Burns said. “It’s not bad. You’ve got company doing it. We’re mostly doing conditioning, so I can’t do what I need to train.”


It’s been a frustrating pause for Burns, who has been in gymnastics since she was a 3-year-old girl who mimicked every event while watching the 2004 Olympics. But she keeps looking forward, and that has helped her persevere.


“It’s definitely hard being stuck at home,” Burns said. “And it’s hard to find that constant motivation to keep up with school. But it definitely helps when you think that everybody’s going through it and you have a very close family and close friends.”