Between The Bars

Dec. 5, 2006

Intra-squad and Meet the Bruins ~

Before I give a summary of the weekend, I would like to give the update on Brittani McCullough. Brittani was in a horrific accident the day before Thanksgiving. Her car was unrecognizably totaled. Thank God she did not get more seriously injured. We saw the doctors last Wednesday and got some sad news. The gash across her left foot did sever the tendon to her big toe. She has to have that repaired sooner rather than later, so she is having surgery on Wednesday and will have to redshirt this season. She's having a hard time with this, feeling that she's let her team down. I keep hoping to find the words to help her understand that we all have a sharp clear perspective of the bigger picture here ... We are all thankful that a severed big toe tendon is the extent of her injuries, and that she is going to recover fully from an accident that could have been far worse. I could write a novel on Brittani; suffice it to say - she's an amazing person.

Our goals for our intra-squad this year were: (1) To see where we are with our competitive routines. (2) To compete some new skills under pressure. And (3) To get some more pressure on our athletes in preparation for competition season.

Vaulting went very well. Tasha, Jordan, Peckett and Ariana all performed better vaults than they did in the past two years. Selesky's vault is huge and has beautiful shape. The landings are what will make or break her vault. Natalie's vault was beautiful as well. When she has good shape coming off the table, she usually sticks it. She tends to perform better under pressure, which is great. Janelle's vaults in training are going really well. She just needs more reps to build more confidence in competition. Ashley Jenkins is coming along well on all of her events. She hasn't trained or competed fully in quite a while. She's extremely talented and loves the challenge of competition. It's interesting watching her regain her skills. She struggles for quite a while, then BAM, one day it all clicks, and she's got another skill back. She's a few months away still from breaking through on vault. We look forward to adding Kristina and Anna to the line up. Both of them will be cleared to resume full training at the end of this month.

Bars: Most everyone's bar routines are solid. Jordan has been training her routine from last year, along with a double layout dismount. Anna still has to be cleared to land a dismount, but her bar routine is stunning. Jenkins' bar routine is extremely impressive when it all clicks. The first part hinges on catching her toe-on Shaposh. Her double pike dismount from a giant full, giant hop full is beautiful. The looming question is how long it will take Comforte to be back on this event. We're assuming this will be the last event she comes back on.

Beam: Beam is great. Ariana has added a three series and double twist dismount. We need to clean up some form, but it's fun to see her compete new skills. We were able to give Kristina a series not having to use both arms for now, although I don't imagine it will take more than a day for her to get her bhs-layout back. She missed the connection in her new series, front aerial-one arm front handspring in the intra-squad but made it nicely in the Meet the Bruins. Jenkins has a nice routine with one arm bhs into layout stepout, side somi, back tuck-bhs swingdown, switch leap-switch half, and two bhs into 1 1/2 or 2 twist dismount. WOW - I can't ever remember getting this routine detailed in an update ... I guess I'm excited for our team. So.... our beamers are great - and we should have Anna and Kristina back by the first or second meet. YEA!

Floor: The oh-so slow choreographer is ALMOST finished. She needs to choreograph a new routine for Kristina and Janelle and has quite a bit of tweaking to do with the rest of them. Tumbling is coming along well. We've got Plan A, B, and C for most of them. Losing Brittani, who was the most prepared to compete on every event of all of our athletes, for the season, has made us re-check our competition plan to insure that our athletes stay healthy. Tumbling news: Ariana competed a half in, half out for her first pass in the intra-squad (without a spot), didn't make her first try ... got mixed up with her music so asked to start again. Her next attempt was great. She made all of her passes, which includes a punch front, whip to double full second pass (which is new also) and double pike last pass. I've got to tweak her dance so the poor thing can get some oxygen before her last pass. I tend to do that every year ... I load them up on dance, Chris looks at me like I've lost my mind, and I obdurately start taking dance out.

The Meet the Team went well. First of all, the energy on our campus was electric from our HUGE FOOTBALL WIN the night before. It was fun having quite a few of the football players at our event on Sunday. Highlights: On floor, Janelle performed her double front, sat down the first one but made the second one better than she has in a long time. Anna Li was on fire. Everything she did was near perfection. The dance-throughs on floor, while a bit rough in my opinion, showed promise ... lots of eye contact, which is something I drill into them ad nauseam. Bars went really well, and our Beamers did a bit better than I had expected. All in all, it was a fun and successful day.

I apologize if this missive is imperspicuous - I feel like I'm writing a hundred miles an hour. I'm so excited for our team and for our season to begin.

~ miss val



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