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Nina Dobrev: I was a high school sports star

9/22/2011

Nina Dobrev, who plays two characters — the vampire vixen Katherine and her high school-aged human doppelganger Elena — on CW’s hit drama “The Vampire Diaries,” has already staked her claim to stardom. And the 22-year-old needs no stunt double when she’s battling bloodsuckers on Thursday nights.

She was a competitive gymnast and played varsity volleyball, soccer, baseball, basketball and flag football at Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts in Ontario, Canada. Nina’s also putting her athletic skills to good use off the set by teaming up with top women’s soccer stars to promote Puma’s Project Pink, a campaign to support breast cancer awareness and research. She talked with ESPNHS about what she learned playing sports and how teen athletes can help the cause.

ESPNHS: How did you get involved with Puma’s Project Pink?

NINA DOBREV: My best friend’s mom battled breast cancer and won. My goal with Project Pink is to empower girls to do something about the disease. Athletes have already chosen to take care of their bodies and have an awareness that a lot of people who aren’t active don’t have. And it starts in high school. Growing up, I was a jock who played every sport you can think of and was a competitive gymnast. Sports taught me discipline and how to keep my body healthy.

ESPNHS: What can people do to support the cause?

Nina:Tweet using the #projectpink hash tag from now through Oct. 18. For every tweet, Puma will donate $1 toward the breast cancer charity of your choice. Go online to nominate your favorite charity. The winner will receive 100 percent of the profits from the sale of Puma’s Project Pink gear and the Twitter funds, up to $25,000.

ESPNHS: How did you get into sports?

Nina:I always looked up to my older brother, Aleksander. I wanted to do everything he did, so I followed him around like an annoying little sister and demanded to be involved. I played basketball, baseball and soccer with the guys. My brother taught me how to wakeboard and snowboard. Everyone in my family is competitive and loves playing sports.

ESPNHS: Did you compete in elite gymnastics?

Nina: Yeah, I competed for Team Canada in aesthetic gymnastics. We trained five days a week for three to four hours a day and traveled to Europe to compete. One of the girls on our team became an Olympian. My body just couldn’t handle [the elite-level training], so I started acting. I spent my senior year of high school on movie sets, where I was tutored privately so I could graduate on time. I was still part of some teams, but I was missing so many games that I finally had to let sports go. That’s one hard thing about acting. Your schedule is so inconsistent that you can’t join leagues.

ESPNHS: Do you have any regrets about taking on such a demanding schedule during high school?

Nina: I spread myself very, very thin in high school. But I don’t regret it because it prepared me to take on my current workload. People say high school is the best four years of your life, and I think it’s true. You don’t have to work. You’re just hanging with friends and playing sports. It is a pretty great time, so definitely take it slow, enjoy it, be active and get your blood pumping.