10.0 Spotlight - Vanessa Zamarripa

Dec. 31, 2008

Freshman Vanessa Zamarripa is the featured gymnast in 10.0 Spotlight, which will profile a member of the UCLA Gymnastics squad throughout the season. Zamarripa, who hails from O'Fallon, IL, is one of the most accomplished gymnasts in JO history, capturing nine Level 10 individual national titles from 2003-07. She won the Senior A national all-around and beam titles in 2007 and consecutive Junior national all-around titles from 2003-04.

What made you decide to attend UCLA?
I decided to attend UCLA because I have over 100 plus family members out here (on my dad's side), so it's like a home away from home. UCLA is renowned worldwide in regards to the academic degree and its athletics. I absolutely love the campus, the weather, and the gymnastics team and coaches are amazing, so I would have had to be crazy to not have chosen UCLA!

How has the transition been between club gymnastics and college gymnastics, as well as the transition between high school and college life?
College gymnastics is a lot different than club gymnastics because I was basically the only gymnast training at a higher level at my club. I would have a few other girls who would work out with me, but not at my level or age. I love college gymnastics so far because now I am a part of a team. It is also sooooo much different because of the conditioning, the different styles in coaching, and the different types of personalities on the team.

High school is also a lot different than college. We have to train before we go to class, and on some days we have hour breaks in between. What's also different is having to go to office hours and tutoring for my classes. The pace here is a lot faster than in the Midwest, and in L.A. there are a lot more things to do around here.

Why did you decide to stay Level 10 rather than elite? Would you consider elite again in the future?
I decided that I would stay healthy and have a successful JO career and arrive here at UCLA without any potentially prolonged injuries. I am definitely interested in going the elite route. As long as everything goes well and I stay healthy, I would say why not in giving it a shot. I feel that I have yet to reach my peak, and I believe that training here at UCLA can help me achieve that.

What upgrades, if any, have you learned since coming to UCLA?
I learned a double layout. I had only done it on the tumble track into the foam pit and never on the real floor before. The other thing I've learned, outside of gymnastics, is time management skills. College is a lot different than high school, and there isn't enough time as there was before to do other things, so it's imperative to have good time management skills so that I am still able to have a balanced lifestyle.

How did you get started in gymnastics?
Oh yes, I can still remember it like it was yesterday. But long story short, I was watching the Olympics in 1996, and gymnastics was on TV. Without any hesitation, I told my parents, 'I can do that', and ever since then I was flipping everywhere and continuously begged my parents to find me a gymnastics gym so that I could start training. I would come home after school and ask them if I can join gymnastics. It was about a year's worth of patience until I was at the age of seven that they finally let me start my first class.

How has dorm life been treating you?
It actually isn't too bad; the food here is pretty good, and I was fortunate enough to have an awesome roommate - Kelsey Louden, a swimmer; she is pretty much amazing! :) - and my awesome suitemates - swimmer Paige Treleven and softball player Brooke Finley!

Were you able to go home for the holidays this year?
It is nice having family near L.A. because I wasn't able to go home during Thanksgiving break. I spent time with my family out in Rancho Cucamonga, Chino Hills, Corona and Ontario. I have so many relatives that live in so many different cities around here! I was not able to visit ALL of them on Thanksgiving break, but I will most definitely reunite with them once again during gymnastics season at our home meets in Pauley Pavilion! And let me tell you, they are really loud, so be prepared for some intense fans this upcoming season!

For Christmas break I did have a chance to go back to Illinois and visit my family and friends. It was really cold back home, and I was definitely not prepared for the cold weather! I have been so spoiled with the nice weather here in California! It was nice going back and seeing everyone again though because it had been about six months since the last time I have seen them.

You competed in the pole vault in high school and set a school record after about a week of training. How did that all come about, and do you think you might pursue the sport after you are finished with gymnastics?
Actually it was only a few days that it took for me to accomplish that feat, which was pretty cool because that record hadn't been broken for about 10 years. I decided to try it because my brother Anthony was involved in it and showed me that it involves gymnastics, so having many years of experience with gymnastics, I thought that I would be decent at it. I didn't do it all too much because I didn't want it to interfere with gymnastics training. To pursue that in the future is questionable; I haven't put much thought into whether I would like to try that sport again.

What are your interests outside of gymnastics?
I love spending time with my teammates and friends by going shopping or just hanging out. I also like playing ping pong, beach volleyball, pretty much any other sport there is out there. I also enjoy supporting my friends at their games/competitions/meets. When I have time I like helping out others, such as doing volunteer work. The last event I helped out with was the Dribble for the Cure event.

What are your goals for the upcoming season?
Nothing specific...but my goals are to stay healthy and to be able to perform at my best at every meet!

Lightning Round:
Favorite website?
cnn.com

Best sports movie?
Cinderella Man

Can't-miss TV show?
House

All-time favorite gymnast?
Kerri Strug

Biggest pet peeve in gymnastics?
When there is 'goop' (a combination of water and chalk). It gets on the chalk tray, and my arm always manages to get a good scoop of it. haha..

What are you addicted to?
It's a close tie between Heath Bars and Twist, (It's a frozen yogurt place, so good!)

Nickname?
People like to call me Zam or Ness.

Favorite event to compete on?
All of them! Okay, well if I had to pick one, vault.

Describe yourself in one word.
Random

Describe your team in one word.
Wondrous!

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