Between The Bars

Jan. 29, 2005

Every year, it seems we have one of 'those' meets... UGLY ... not scary ugly ... just 'not in the zone' ugly. I know from experience that our team will rebound with fire and determination. I know from experience that a lot was learned at last night's meet at ASU. I'm thankful that 'ugly' didn't include injury. And, I'm encouraged by the numerous one-on-one conversations I've already have with some of our team about how they felt last night before, during, and after the competition. Still, it was a LONG night!

Highlights:

I was excited for Kristen Maloney to be able to come in at the last minute and compete lights out. She is an amazing athlete and a tremendous example for our team.

I'm also excited for Tasha Schwikert, who went from being under the weather to being able to win over the ASU crowd with some high flippin' and fancy dancin' on the floor, and for maintaining an energetic and supportive enthusiasm for her teammates all night.

And I'm once again reminded of what a tough and fun competitor Ashley Peckett is. She's had a nasty bought of the flu, so we didn't expect her to compete. On Thursday, she told me she could definitely vault. On Friday after warm-ups, she said she'd be fine on beam. She competed both extremely well with that ol' Peckett fire that usually is extremely infectious.

Other highlights included Michelle Selesky. Even though she missed on the two events she came in on, her mistakes were consistent with where she is in the new skills she's learned. Since last spring she has learned a Yurchenko layout full that is bigger than Tasha's when she hits it. We're working on the consistency part now. And her tumbling on floor was awesome, including the double pike that was so high and powerful that there was no way she was not going to over-rotate. That's O.K. She's right on the verge of busting out. It's an exciting time for her, us coaches, and her teammates to watch her develop into an awesome gymnast and aggressive competitor.

Even though our 'ugliness' came in the form of fall after fall after fall, we actually did some good gymnastics. Christie Tedmon exhibitioned on bars and performed the best bar routine to date for her. Kisha came in on vault and did a nice tsuk layout full, and she exhibitioned on floor for the first time this year. Walker did some beautiful gymnastics on bars and floor - just over-rotated her first pass on floor. Lindsey only did bars because of pain in her back, which we're getting checked out on Monday. Jordan is simply a dream. Her toe is getting better but kept her off floor and vault. She had an uncharacteristic fall on beam but handled it all like the pro that she is. And Kate had a rough night, but I think she made a leap in her competitive maturity. On our last event, I saw that concerned 'oh my gosh' look in her eyes. I went up to her, 'coach talked' her up pretty brutally, honestly, and told her what she needed to do... and she did it beautifully, even with a handstand before her two layout series that wasn't quite up to handstand, yet she still drilled her layouts.

The most improvement we made was a HUGE one for us. Every meet this year I've had to talk with our athletes about not 'letting down' after they make a mistake. We've had in-depth philosophical discussion about why they do gymnastics, why they compete, what's the importance of it all. Through all of the 'yuck' last night, I was excited to see them keep performing ... every one of them.

All in all, it was an experience we'll learn a lot from. It was not necessarily a fun one, or one we need to repeat this season ... but definitely one that will make us stronger, tougher and more determined. (Are you hearing the Rocky theme in the background fading in? ... 'Adrian!' ..... )

Off to Michigan in 5 days.

~miss val

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