The Smyth Report: 2008 Season Preview

Oct. 1, 2007

And so it begins...another year is underway and we are off to a great start.

Depth, Experience and Leadership

These three qualities will be the keys to our success this season. We return our entire roster from 2007 and add three great freshmen. That means 17 student-athletes in the gym representing SWG. Unbelievable, to think in 2007 we had a team of 14 and that was a record number for our program. Knock on wood recruiting has been going well---and life is good!

The 2008 team is led by a decorated senior class that includes, Lauren Elmore, Stephanie Gentry, Aimee Precourt, Alex Pintchouk, Liz Tricase and Tabitha Yim. These seniors have experienced the highs and lows of collegiate gymnastics and together have weathered every storm. They find themselves back on top of the mountain and leading the 2008 team with the urgency that only comes with being a senior. These six seniors love the sport, each other, the program and Stanford University. Collectively they have won a Pac-10 Championship, a Regional Championship and competed in a Super Six. I know they are ready to build off last year's performance.

I am also thrilled to announce the addition of Stanford alum, Hillary Anderson 96' to our coaching staff as our volunteer assistant coach. Hillary has been coaching club the last few years and will be helping out on beam 2 days a week. She is an excellent coach, and even better person. Having her expertise and positive energy in the gym will be a great addition.

We have been together for two weeks now and I am already starting to see the team gel. Our team chemistry as always will be a focus, and I am certain one of our strengths. One of the ways we build team spirit and unity is through our annual team retreat. This fall we kicked the year off in beautiful Lake Tahoe.

The first evening was filled with games, team building activities, and reflection. We started with a blindfolded trust walk, and finished with a hand made puzzle of the 2007 team at Nationals last year. The puzzle was broken into 9 pieces and the team split into two groups. All of the girls were blindfolded but one who had to explain to their team how to put the puzzle together. It was pretty neat to watch them work together and accomplish their first few challenges as a group.

After the games we watched the highlight videos from last season which sparked some intense and inspiring conversation. This team has experience and knows what it takes to compete on the last day of the year. They are fired up for the season, and of the 17 gymnasts, six are returning All Americans.

We just finished our first week of practice and it was exciting to finally get in the gym and see what we have to work with. Needless to say, the cupboard is full. We return four All Americans on vault and add Allyse, Shelley, Dani and Gretchen to the mix. Shelley is outstanding and adds a yurchenko 1 ½ to our line-up. On bars, Nikki, Pinch and Carly are looking to add a tkachev and getting Allyse back is a real bonus. The entire beam team is training to compete a triple series, and on floor we are looking to upgrade our tumbling so that everyone has an 'E' first pass.

As always, thank you for your support and GO CARD!

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