Gymnastics Busily Preparing For Winter Competition Season

Oct. 24, 2008

SEATTLE- The Washington gymnastics team is busy preparing for its upcoming competition year, which officially begins on Jan. 9 as the Huskies host Alaska. The five freshmen and seven returnees have spent the fall bonding, conditioning and practicing hard to make the 2009 season a successful one.

Before fall classes started on the UW's campus, the team had already had a month together, owing to the five freshmen each enrolling in Early Fall Start Class. Each of the five newcomers elected to participate in voluntary practice, which gave them a chance to start getting used to working in a more team-oriented environment than their clubs afford them.

All 12 gymnasts took part in special team bonding experiences, organized by the coaching staff. The team went on a day-long hike around Snow Lake's wilderness trail, rented canoes on Lake Washington and took a seaplane tour of Seattle. The team also got together with recruits for a pre-game tailgate before the football game against BYU.

'We are so lucky to live in an area with wonderful outdoor activities like hiking and canoeing,' said sophomore Karen Cain. 'The seaplanes were so fun and the views of the sound and mountains were stunning.'

Besides learning new skills, one thing the team has really focused on during preseason practice is learning to perform well under pressure.

'The mental aspect of our sport is grueling,' said head coach Joanne Bowers. 'We want them to have more opportunities to practice the stressful situations in a practice environment so meets will not be as stressful.'

During practice, Bowers chooses different gymnasts to focus on and has that athlete perform whilehas the entire team watches, creating a competition day-like environment.

'The athletes have to learn to deal with pressure,' said Bowers. 'I want them to relax, but still aggressively attack their routines. The most important thing is being able to do it when it matters, being able to do it when it counts. So that's what we're trying to get them ready for.'

To aid the team in this quest, Bowers has scheduled a small in-gym intra-squad meet on Halloween complete with two local judges, just to give the gymnasts a small taste of meet day. The official intra-squad meet will be held on Nov. 24 in the main gym at 7pm. It is open to the public and free of charge.

'We are so excited about this team,' said Bowers. 'The effort and attitude the team brings every day is just great. We have a lot of talent in the gym. We have the potential to be a very good team this year, but we're very young. It's exciting to see our talent and potential, but it will always come down to how well we perform against our competition.'

The Huskies will host five meets this winter, beginning with Alaska on Jan. 9. Bank of America Arena will also serve as the venue for meets against Stanford, Seattle Pacific, Sacramento State, Arizona, Oregon State, Eastern Michigan, Illinois and Denver. Washington is also the host site for NCAA Regionals on Sat., April 4 at 6pm. Complete schedule and ticket information is available on GoHuskies.com.

Odds & Ends:
Washington Intercollegiate Athletics has also inked a deal with Comcast this year for all home gymnastics meets to be shown On-Demand for all regional Comcast subscribers.

Several upgrades to the competition arena: new competition floor, new in-ground trampoline with overhead spotting belt, three new spin bikes, all balance beams have been re-covered and two new computers and a printer have been installed in the team locker room.

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