10.0 Spotlight - Allison Taylor

Feb. 20, 2009

Sophomore Allison Taylor is the featured gymnast in 10.0 Spotlight, which profiles a member of the UCLA gymnastics squad throughout the season. The Dallas, TX native trained at the famed gymnastics club WOGA, home of the last two Olympic all-around champions. Taylor competed at the 2003 USA Championships and 2005 U.S. Classic and placed eighth on bars at the 2004 Voronin Cup in Moscow. Last season as a freshman, she competed on uneven bars in five meets, setting a career high of 9.8 at the Chicago Style Meet. Taylor has performed exhibition routines on both uneven bars and floor exercise this season, with highs of 9.75 on bars and 9.725 on floor.

You've had to battle injuries since you've been at UCLA. What is your status now, and are you just concentrating your training on certain events only because of your injuries?
As of right now, I am healthy! Finally! (Everyone knock on wood as they are reading this, please!) I have battled injuries throughout my entire gymnastics career, and it is nice to finally be able to train consistently. When I was coming back from my injury last year, I mainly focused on bars and floor because that is what I could contribute on, but this year I am branching out! A couple of months ago, I began training beam again (thanks to Miss Val), and just within the last few weeks, I have started to vault again, which feels great. I finally feel like a whole gymnast again. I can't wait until summer when I can really start training to get back to where I was on those two events.

What intangibles would you say you bring to the team?
I would say that I bring just a general positive attitude to the team just by being the complete goober that I am. Especially in competitions, I try to keep the energy up and make the mood light. If you look for me during meets I will will probably be doing some silly dance just to try and put a smile on everyone else's face. Ask any of my teammates ... I have excellent dance moves. NOT! But I do love dancing! I also try to be aware of everyone else's needs during practice and meets so that I can support them in any way I can. For example, in meets, I always bring Miss Val her glass of water before beam, and I know that Marci likes to have her flip flops!

Talk about what it was like training with the last two Olympic champions (Carly Patterson and Nastia Liukin). And do you think that the success of your club gym (WOGA) was due to an abundance of talent being there at once or to really great coaching?
Well, first of all, I have to say that it was an amazing experience to train with Carly and Nastia. Nastia and I practically grew up together and trained together, so watching her win was an emotional experience! It was very motivating to be surrounded by such great athletes all the time. I think that WOGA's success is definitely a combination of those two things - talent and coaching. Obviously, Valeri and Evgeny are amazing coaches who can bring so much to the table in terms of personal gymnastics experience and coaching experience. Their Russian coaching style is very important to their success. I think that the abundance of talent at WOGA is there because of the success that the gym has. Therefore, the talented girls want to go to the best gym to improve and reach their personal goals. Once you put good coaching, talent and lots of hard work together, you can create champions!

What made you decide to attend UCLA?
I went on several unofficial visits during my junior year, including one to UCLA. Within five minutes of being on campus, I knew that UCLA was the place for me. The campus is absolutely beautiful, and you can't beat the Southern California weather! The team was great, and I loved the coaches. They were so genuine and caring, I couldn't turn them down.

UCLA is known all over the world for its academic and athletic excellence, which was appealing to me. It is rare that you can get such a great education and have such a successful athletic program at the same school. Getting an education from UCLA is an unbelievable thing and will create so many opportunities for me later in life.Being part of an athletic program that has won 103 national championships is something I could not experience at any other school. IT'S GREAT TO BE ALIVE & BE A BRUIN!

You were one of two Bruins to be selected to attend the NCAA Leadership Conference this year. Talk about that experience.
Kevin Craddock from the track team and I were selected to be UCLA's representatives at the Division I NCAA Leadership Conference in San Diego. It was such a great honor to be selected by the administration. It was an amazing experience. I couldn't have imagined how much fun I had and what close friendships I made in the span of 3 days. We talked about leadership, sportsmanship and team dynamics. Not only did I learn so much about other people, but I learned a lot about myself and how to become a better leader on my team during the conference. Kevin and I had a blast and brought a lot of our ideas back to school to make some improvements on our campus. I got really close to my group, and everyone was crying on the last day! It was unbelievable how close we had all gotten. We still keep in touch with each other. It was definitely one of the best things I have done since being at UCLA.

What are you studying in school, and what are your career aspirations?I am a sociology major here at UCLA, and I love it! People watching is one of my favorite things, so a sociology major is appropriate. In terms of a career, I definitely want to go into something that involves sports. I am really interested in becoming a sports broadcaster or doing PR/Communications for a team. If I could end up working at UCLA in the athletic department I would be more than happy! (Hint, hint to our administration!)

What was your most memorable gymnastics moment?
My number one is definitely when I called Miss Val and told her that I was accepting her scholarship offer to UCLA. She started crying, and it was just the happiest moment of my life.

What is your best blooper moment in the gym or in competition?
Well, I have blooper moments every day! If you want to know my absolute most embarrassing moment, go ask Ariana Berlin, she'll be happy to tell you. But my best blooper moment in competition was at my Level 8 state meet. It was the last rotation, and I was going to win the all-around. I started my floor routine, was dancing all pretty and stepped in the corner for my first pass. I started running and went to hurdle, but my foot got caught, and I just ate it on my face. I didn't even make it to the hurdle! No roundoff ... no nothing. I just rolled across the floor on my head! I stood up and didn't really know what to do, so I just ran to the corner and kept going with my dance. Needless to say, I definitely didn't end up winning the meet. I wish I had the video online so you all could see it!

What are your interests outside of gymnastics?
I am really interested in other sports, actually. My parents definitely got the best of both worlds since they had a little girl who loved sports but was also a girly girl! I follow the NBA and the NFL mostly, and when the Tour de France comes around, I keep up with that (I am a HUGE Lance Armstrong fan!). Outside of gymnastics, I really like just hanging out with my friends and relaxing! I love to travel, even though I don't really have time for it at this point in my life. I just love seeing and experiencing new things. I can be very adventurous!

Was it the best thing about being a Bruin?
Everything! What I especially love about being a Bruin athlete is the amazing athletic family that you automatically have when you come to UCLA. Right away, I had 800 people surrounding me who were ready to support me in any way they could. Even if it's just a head nod of acknowledgement on Bruin Walk, you know that everyone has your back. I have made so many lifelong friendships and memories since I have been here that can never be replaced.

Lightning round
All-time favorite Dallas Maverick?
Jason 'Jet' Terry

All-time favorite gymnast?
Nastia Liukin :)

If you had one song to pick as your daily anthem, what would it be?
'Fighter' by Christina Aguilera

What quote or saying do you live by?
'Everything happens for a reason.'

Favorite event to compete on?
Floor. I love performing!

What are you addicted to?
Like Marci ... candy! Shhhhh! And also my boyfriend Danny.

Nickname?
Al, Big Tex, Little One

Any pre-meet superstitions?
I used to have to eat pasta every morning for breakfast before a meet! Yes, pasta for breakfast.

If you could trade places with any member of your team, who would it be and why?
I would want to trade places with either Elyse or Marci. They have competed at World Championships and Olympic Games. I just think that would be the most unbelievable experience.

Tell us something about yourself that people would be surprised to know.
I learned Spanish practically before I learned English.

Describe yourself in one word.
Loving

Describe your team in one word.
Determined

They say everything is bigger in Texas. What IS the biggest thing in Texas?
MY SMILE! ;)

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