Women's Gymnastics NCAA Championship Quotes

April 14, 2004

Arizona State Head Coach John Spini

(Opening Statement)'I know how hard it is to run such a huge meet and I think UCLA has done a great job. Every program will be better for having competed in this event. We're really excited to be here.'

(On UCLA)'They are an outstanding team without question. The Pac-10 is a great conference. UCLA is the showcase of the Pac-10 right now.'

Arizona State Gymnast Maggie Germaine

(About competing on Podium)'There is a little more give, which is good for the body. You are out there by yourself. But I think it is really good and will be a highlight for TV.'

Alabama Head Coach Sarah Patterson

(Opening Statement)'Every year there is a team that had a close call and this year that was us. We're excited to be here and do not take it for granted. The evening session is going to be difficult.'

Alabama Head Gymnast Jeana Rice

(About competing on Podium)'I think for our team it is about half-and-half in terms of who has competed on podium before. I think it will be good for the fans so we're excited. So many of the athletes, when they come over from USA Gymnastics, the first thing they love is the team atmosphere and that will be different with the podium. I did not vote for it but I think it will be fine.'

LSU Head Coach D-D Breaux

(Opening Statement)'We're excited to be here. It's been a long time since we've been to UCLA. We used to have dual meets out here and it's always exciting. When you start your season you talk about climbing a mountain and the journey. UCLA has been a real destination for our team. We've talked about it all season long.'

(Regarding competing on podium for the first time this year)'It really hasn't been an issue for them. We really tried not to make it an issue because I didn't want give them any excuses.'

(On the increasing parity in college gymnastics)'I'm excited about it. The key is the consistency that teams have developed, the quality coaches and also the tremendous amount of support that universities have put in their gymnastics programs. I know our team has enjoyed a lot of success this year because of consistency. To see Florida one week beat us and then we come back at the conference championships and beat them. It has just been a fabulous year in terms of the level of competition throughout our conference and throughout the country has just grown from leaps and bounds. It's just amazing to watch it and it's exciting.'

LSU Gymnast April Burkholder

(About competing on Podium)'I've never competed on podium, but I think about half our team has. They really like it and it will be different because you don't have your team right there cheering for you. But we're excited and I think it will be easier for the crowd to see what we're doing.'

Michigan Head Coach Bev Plocki

(Opening Statement)'I couldn't agree more with Greg's statement about understanding from year to year how increasingly more difficult it becomes to qualify to get here. This has been and up and down kind of year for us and so we're very thrilled to have gone into our regional as the fourth seed and be lucky enough to be one of the teams to come back to the national championships. There were some very quality teams (at regionals) that were not lucky enough to make this trip. So we feel very fortunate to be here. We were in UCLA earlier this year and we are hoping we will improve on our performance from that competition. We feel like we are getting better and hopefully peaking at the right time. We're just enjoying the sunshine and being back in Los Angeles.'

(Regarding competing on podium for the first time this year)'I feel like I would just repeat everything that everybody has already said. We have some athletes who have competed on podium and some who obviously have not. But it's here and all 12 teams are going to compete on it so all is equal and fair in this competition so we'll see.'

Michigan Gymnast Elise Ray

(About competing on Podium)'The last time I competed on podium was just like Jeanette back in the Elite days. I'm really looking forward to it actually. I've always really liked it and I'm excited that we're on it.'

(Regarding past injuries)'I redshirted last year because of my shoulder. I tore my labrum so I had surgery last year in March. This year I came back to school in September and hadn't done anything all summer except for rehab. Preseason consisted of a lot of hard work just getting back all the skills I wanted to compete. But as soon as I started competing again this year it just sort of fell into place and felt like I had really taken no time off. So I was very fortunate this year that my shoulder has held up really well. I feel good.'

Iowa Head Coach Mike Lorenzen

(Opening Statement)'We would also like to thank UCLA for hosting this event and doing a spectacular job already. It's a great thrill to be able to come to Los Angeles. There is certainly something special about being able to fly halfway across the country when you work so hard all year to qualify for something. To make it back-to-back years for us is very exciting and we feel it is a very strong statement about the direction of our program and the foundation that we have laid. We're excited for what should be a tremendously high level of competition. I think we have 12 outstanding teams here and it should be a lot of fun.'

(On the increasing parity in college gymnastics)'For us to be able to come here two years in a row giving how many teams there are out there right now, is nothing short of extraordinary. Mostly because there are so many great gymnastics teams out there. There are probably 20 to 22 teams that really deserved to be at this meet and could've been had the right things happened to them at the regional meet. So it's very exciting and it gives everybody a lot greater level of incentive to work towards this because it's possible now. You can get to the NCAA Championships.'

Iowa Gymnast Alexis Maday

(Regarding competing on podium)'Being one of the many student-athletes here who have competed on the podium, it is a little different. But each team has to make adjustments at every meet they come to. I think it's great being able to compete on the podium at nationals because all the girls will have a chance to showcase what they have.'

Nebraska Head Coach Dan Kendig

(Opening Statement)'I do want to thank UCLA. The arena does look great and the podium is definitely going to showcase this event on a whole new light that we're not used to. Having been the host team last year I know the kind of work that goes into it and it's all the little things that make a difference. So far everything seems to be going great here. We're looking forward to a great competition. It's definitely action packed. We have 12 great teams very deserving of being here at the National Championships.'

(On the increasing parity in college gymnastics)'There is parity here. Like Mike said, there are maybe as many as 20 or 22 teams that were capable of being in this meet. There are teams that missed out by .025 that maybe have never been here before. I feel like the parity is good but I agree with Mike in terms of the top end of it is still the top end of this. Tradition means so much at this level. However, I think the days of a team being so far ahead that they can just show up, make a mistake and still win - those days are over.'

Nebraska Gymnast Libby Landgraf

(Regarding competing on podium)'I think it's a good thing but it is a little lonely being out there by your self. But at the same time I'm excited because you feel special, kind of like you're competing at the Olympics.'

Florida Head Coach Rhonda Faehn

(Opening Statement)'I'd like to thank UCLA for hosting. Everything looks spectacular. This is going to be an exciting meet. Every team is talented and can vie for the title. It is great for me to come back to UCLA for this championship. I wish all of the teams the best of luck.'

(On competing as an athlete at UCLA)'I have so many phenomenal memories at UCLA. It was eerie pulling onto the campus. It is so beautiful and prestigious. Competing in Pauley Pavilion is a magical experience for every Bruin. I've tried to take the prestige and class of UCLA with me to Florida. UCLA has a phenomenal combination of athletics and academics. Prestige is carried throughout the school's history. Val and the athletic department have been committed to maintaining the prestige. Once you've established tradition and respect, like UCLA has, you're in a good situation.'

(Regarding competing on podium)'I am very much in favor of the podium. It brings a different type of respect to the competition. The biggest difference that the podium makes is that it highlights the athlete on that event. It raises the level of competition and is more audience friendly. The equipment does give more, but the girls have to adjust no matter what.'

Florida Gymnast Erinn Dooley

(On competing on podium)'It's the first time for the championships to be on podium. The last time that I competed on podium was in 2000. The floor is bouncier, but you need to get used to it. It's not that much different. Its nice.'

Georgia head Coach Suzanne Yoculan

(Opening Statement)'I'd like to thank UCLA for hosting. Valerie has made it a very pleasant trip for everyone. We have fond memories of competing at UCLA. The last time we competed here was in 1998, and we won the national title that year. We'd like to carry on that success. We're looking forward to a good competition. Coming off of the SEC and Regional Championships, we feel really confident.'

(On the increasing parity in college gymnastics)'So many teams that are really good didn't make it to the national championships. Parity is what everyone wanted, and now we have it. I think that it's terrific. It means that you have to be on every step of the way. Things have changed a great deal, but it is in the best interest of the sport.'

(Regarding competing on podium)'It is fine to be competing on podium now as opposed to the regular season. I was apprehensive at the beginning, but seeing the layout, we'll have the best of both worlds. We'll be able to highlight the athletes and maintain the team atmosphere.'

Georgia Gymnast Kinsey Rowe

(On competing on podium)'A lot of my teammates have experience on podium. The biggest difference is that you can't count on your teammates to be right there for you visually and audibly. It is a lot more internal which will make a difference.'

UCLA Head Coach Valerie Kondos-Field

(Opening Statement)'Every team is excited to host a national championship. We're thrilled to have it back in Pauley Pavilion. All of our student athletes are excited. The podium looks so regal and we look forward to an exciting weekend.'

(Regarding competing on podium)'When we first started talking about podium, I asked the team what they thought about it. My main concern was the amount of time necessary to adjust to it. The athletes said that it took less time to get used to it. With a three-day competition, the podium is more forgiving and better for the body. The podium was an option because we could use it. After the World Championships, held in Anaheim, the podium was just going to sit down there until the Olympic Trials.'

(On the increasing parity in college gymnastics)'When you look back at all of the national championships, the team that hit best that night has won. Parity is great for the sport. It is not necessarily healthy to have just a few teams at the top. Parity is extremely healthy for collegiate gymnastics.'

UCLA senior Jeanette Antolin

(Regarding competing on podium)'The last time that I competed on podium was at the 2000 Olympic Trials. At the performance level, it is more exciting. You get to perform more for the audience, and it's audience friendly. I like being on podium. It's better for the ankles and body.'

(On UCLA beginning their rotation on vault)'Starting off on vault is good for our team. We are strong on the vault. It allows us to start off on a good foot, which is good for the team.'

Utah Head Coach Greg Marsden

(Opening Statement)'It is more and more difficult to qualify for the national championships. Each time you do it, you appreciate it more. We've had great experiences in Pauley Pavilion and are looking forward to another great meet.'

(Regarding competing on podium)'There are many different things you have to deal with once you get to the post season. My experience with podium has been nothing but positive. When I discussed it with my athletes, many of which hadn't competed on podium before, they were excited and looking forward to it.'

(On the increasing parity in college gymnastics)'Every decision is a two edged sword. I think that it is most difficult for UCLA, Georgia and Utah. The door is now open for other schools to come in and be successful. Parity has less to do with the rules and more to do with the increased quality of athletes and coaches, and the commitment of universities to their gymnastics programs.'

Utah Gymnast Melisa Vitoy

(Regarding competing on podium)'I've never been on podium before. I'm excited for the opportunity and to see what are team can do.'

Stanford Head Coach Kristin Smith

(Opening Statement) 'We are really excited to be here. I'd like to thank UCLA for putting on a great event. It is a privilege to be here. We have five strong seniors leading us. And, we're looking forward to coming out tomorrow night and hitting 24 routines.'

(On the increasing parity in college gymnastics)'Parity is great. The level of gymnastics has grown so much at the collegiate level. A ticket to NCAA's is priceless. You have to perform 24 routines, execute and land them well. Then, you see what happens.'

Stanford Gymnast Carolyn Fleur

(Regarding competing on podium)'I've never competed on podium before, but from what I could tell after practice, it will be great. It's exciting to be in the spotlight. I know that we as a team are well prepared for this.'

Oklahoma Head Coach Steve Nuno

(Opening Statement)'I'd like to thank UCLA for a wonderful arena situation. Having the podium will add spice to the broth. Our team has never competed on podium. I look forward to seeing how are athletes will perform. As the only team that wasn't here last year, we're the Cinderella of the group. We're proud to represent the Big 12 and the University of Oklahoma. I'm looking forward to a great competition.'

(Regarding competing on podium)'It might be a competitive advantage for athletes who have competed on podium before to feel more comfortable in this environment. I don't know how my team will react. It is an exciting time. I think that this is a great thing. You live to compete, and the girls will be competing in the same environment as the 1984 Olympics. I hope that provokes some magic.'

(On the increasing parity in college gymnastics)'I always thought that it was odd that only four teams had won titles. I thought that there was something wrong with the system. Now that I've been involved with collegiate gymnastics for four years, I found that that's not necessarily the case. This competition atmosphere brings out the very best teams. The parity is not in the teams qualifying. The parity is that we all have the opportunity to win. At this point, its anybody's game.'

Oklahoma senior Kasie Tamayo

(Regarding competing on podium)'Being on podium is a great thing. For a lot of us, it is our last meet. I couldn't ask for a better way to be showcased in my last meet.'

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