Q&A with Kelly McDonald

Jan. 26, 2005

Kelly McDonald, the lone junior on the 22nd ranked Huskies stepped up last Friday to help her team defeat Stanford. The Seattle native prepares this week to face No. 20 Arizona, No. 24 Minnesota and Seattle Pacific University as the Huskies compete on their home floor for the second week in a row on Friday January 28 at 7pm at Bank of America Arena. GoHuskies.com corespondent Veronica White had a chance to sit down with Kelly.

GoHuskies.com: Is being the only junior in your class lonely at times?
Kelly McDonald: 'It doesn't feel like it right now but I think it will next year when I am the oldest and the only one there. But the team is really close and it's not really separated by classes. Everyone is a team.'

GH: What are your thoughts on the season?KM:'I think that we have done really well dealing with injuries especially with the upperclassmen-our seniors and captains. We've had difficulty on some events but the attitude of the whole team has been really great. We have improvements to make but we will make those, so we are at a good pace for the season. Last year we peaked at the beginning, so this year we are trying to peak at the end when we need to.'

GH: How is the freshman class doing so far? I know they had to step up at the last meet with the upperclassmen being injured?KM:'They really did step up. They have been working really hard. College is a big adjustment because school is different and you are away from home and everything is so different. They have dealt with it really well, especially when people have gone down they have stepped up. It's impressive, they are a good class.'

GH:How is your general health? Will you be healthy enough to compete vault and floor into the season?
KM:' I am starting vault drills right now, it will be a few weeks at the least before I start actually vaulting. And then after I start vaulting I will start floor after that depending on how I feel. It's a slow process. For a while it was hard to tell if I was getting better, but I can tell now.'

GH:What is your injury?
KM:'It's in my heel. I had surgery in May where they shaved off an inch of my heel bone because it was rubbing against my tendon. That heeled up and it's still hurting below that so we are not exactly sure what's wrong with it. Impact stuff still bothers it a lot.'

GH:How do you think as a team you will achieve the goal of going to the NCAA's this year?
KM:' 'I think just keep doing what we are doing right now. I think we need to get more consistent and get healthy and stay healthy. We need to make sure everyone on the team keeps working hard so incase someone gets hurt we have depth or if someone is not feeling their best at Regionals we can put in six healthy girls on every event and hit our routines. We've been good enough every year that I have been here to go to Nationals, we just haven't hit.'

GH:So do you feel like this is the year to do that?
KM:'I do. The coaches have reorganized our training schedule so that we will peak at the end of the season. That's when we will do more routines, instead of before the season. So hopefully our bodies will be healthy and we have done some really good strength stuff so we will be in really good shape at the end.'

GH:So by reorganizing the training schedule do you do more reps at the end of the season?
KM:'Yeah, last season we did a lot more routines before the season even started. This season you can kind of tell that we haven't done as many routines because of our mistakes at the beginning of the season. That will be worked out at the end.'

GH:Would you like to do all-around by the end of the season?
KM:'I would love to do all-around. I love competing and I love competing with this team. I hope I can do whatever I can for them and if all-around is it I would love that.'

GH:What is your workout ethic like?
KM:' I like to get my assignment done and then do more. Coaches usually have to stop me so I don't overdo it. I am a perfectionist, so if I don't do it right I like to do it a lot more and once I get it right-I like to do it a lot more like that.'

GH:What sets you apart from other gymnasts?
KM:'Maybe my perfectionism is one thing. I don't think it's ok to make little mistakes, I want to stick everything. I love gymnastics and hopefully that is not different from other gymnasts but I know that sometimes it is. I love working out and I love competing. I love everything about it.'

GH:Have you had hardships along the way and if so how have you overcome them?
KM:'Definitely my injury was really hard for me to deal with. I have never had to take that much time off of doing gymnastics. Once I was allowed to take one step further I wanted to keep pushing it and I can't. I couldn't do that because it would hurt and I would be out for longer. It was really hard for me to just sit back and watch everyone else do it and not be able to join them.'

GH:How long did your injury keep you out for?
KM:'I am still kind of sitting out because I can only do half the events right now (beam and bars), but I am dealing with it a lot better than I was. There was a period where it was really hard for me to do that.'

GH:Next year being the lone senior in your class, do you expect to take on a leadership role?
KM:'I hope to lead by example and just help all the girls reach their potential and help the team reach its potential just by working hard and showing everyone what that will lead to.'

GH:What are your personal goals for this season?
KM:'I would love to compete all-around, but that is not up to my ability, it's up to my health, which I can work on. I want to help the team go to Nationals because I love competing with everybody else. I would love to get a 10 on any event, so just keep doing what I am doing and hopefully that will happen.'

GH:What was it like defeating Stanford last week?
KM:'I was kind of surprised that we won because we kind of had a shaky meet. We had an awesome beam set, which really helped us push over them. It was fun because they got third at Nationals last year, so it's pretty amazing. It shows everyone on the team that we are good and we are able to beat any team out there.'

GH:What was the attitude on the team like after the meet?
KM:'Everyone was excited that we won and we all realized that we could fix some things, but once the meet is over you can't change things but we were excited that we came out on top.'

GH:What are you doing to prepare for the meet this Friday against Arizona, SPU and Minnesota?
KM:'We're working on the small details now because we have started making more routines but we have small mistakes to clean up. We are really working on detail in the gym.'

GH:I read in the media guide that you like to play ultimate frisbee, how did you get into that?

KM:'Some friends in high school played pick up games and they would invite me. It's fun, it's a competitive thing but it's friendly and it's different than gymnastics. I love running around, especially in the summer when it's hot out.'

GH:Do you have another sport that you would like to do other than gymnastics?
KM:'I have always thought about soccer because my whole family plays. My dad coached my brother's team and both of my sister's teams. They all played through high school and it has always been in the family. But I have been busy.'

GH:I read that you swam in the Drumheller Fountain, what is the story behind that?
KM:'My freshman year they had just cleaned out the fountain, which they never do, because it was broken and they refilled it. It was unusually hot that year and everyone from the dorms, where I was living that year and from the Greek system was going down to go swimming. It was fun but I wouldn't do it now. It was the one time where you could do it without getting swimmers itch.'

GH:What about being a quasi-mute until the age of 10?
KM:'I don't know why I was, but it was just at gymnastics. It was from the time I started until I was 10 years old I didn't speak at all. I spoke at school and at home but at gym I wouldn't say one word to anybody, I would motion with my hands, I don't understand. Then all of the sudden I realized that it didn't make any sense and I started talking.'

GH:What will you miss most about the senior class?
KM:'They are just so much fun and they have been there obviously the whole time I have been there. They are all really good leaders and they are all really hard workers, they are just a great asset to this team and they are so talented too. We will definitely need a great class to come in and take their place.'

GH:Who do you consider your biggest fans?
KM:'My parents. My parents travel to every single meet that we travel to. They even went to Arizona this year because they already bought tickets even though I didn't go because I had an injury. But if you ever go to the meets and see the signs with our names on them, they make all those signs. They also make t-shirts for everybody to support the team. So they are my biggest fans definitely.'

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