Sweet Home Nebraska: By Jenny Peter

April 14, 2009

LINCOLN, Neb. - Welcome, all!

I hope this blog will serve as an up-close and personal peek into 'That SWG 09 Team' and our experience at NCAA Nationals, which is held in Lincoln, Nebraska. Enjoy and check back each day this week!

When my alarm sounded at 5 a.m. this morning, I woke up very alert and was immediately filled with excitement. I thought, ''I'm going to Nationals with the people I love most, and we're headed to my hometown!' How surreal. I repeated that statement to myself over and over as I joyfully grabbed my bags and met my eager teammates at the gym around 6 a.m. The excitement level rose even higher when we were treated to a limo-style bus complete with colorful lights and a sweet music system.

Immediately we pulled out the cameras and busted the dance moves as we cranked up our girly Mariah Carey and Lady Gaga music. We joked that it's 8 a.m. Nebraska time, so it's good we're getting pumped up early!

After going through the usual airport protocols in San Jose and Denver, we finally boarded our last flight and were Omaha-bound. Once we were in Omaha the airport, we were greeted by friendly midwestern smiles and I half-expected to recognize a few faces in the small airport. Sure enough, I ran into a former schoolteacher and a neighbor. Ohh Nebraska.

Mother nature must have decided to give us a warm welcome, too, for it was in the 60's and sunny when we arrived. This was a relief for many, especially to our southern Californian Allyse Ishino : )

We've discussed this National excursion to Nebraska for a while now, and it's finally here. I remember freshmen Allie Skoly asking me last fall, 'So, like, do your neighbors live far away from you in Lincoln?' And 'have you ever gone cow tipping?' (No to the former... I must admit the latter has been attempted but utterly failed). I think some people get the wrong impression of Nebraska because they only see it from the interstate or from the flat, gridded view from the airplane. I'm confident my teammates will think differently after spending time in downtown Lincoln, on the University's campus, and at my home this week. But I must say that my favorite Nebraska-related quote of the day was by Dani Ikoma. After we arrived downtown to our hotel, Dani asked, 'Why is there a statue of a guy bowling on top of that tall building?' She was referring to the statue of a farmer sowing seeds on top of the State capitol building!

We had some downtime at the hotel after our day of traveling and then enjoyed a meal at Grandmother's restaurant. But the concluding team activity became the biggest highlight of the night. We had one of our most heartfelt moments in Kristen's hotel room when we threw around a ball of string and told each other what we enjoy about each person on 'That 09 Team.' The string ended up making a very symbolic interconnected web. I left the room feeling so uplifted and happy to know where I am right now - I'm a part of the Stanford Women's Gymnastics Team of 2009, and together we're about to enjoy the best gymnastics experience we've ever had.

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