UCLABruins.com Summer Spotlight - Alyssa Pritchett

July 6, 2009

By Allison Taylor, UCLABruins.com contributor

Sophomore Alyssa Pritchett from the gymnastics team is the featured athlete in UCLABruins.com's Summer Spotlight. Pritchett had a strong beginning to her freshman season last year, scoring a 9.8 on vault as a last-minute substitute in the season opener at Utah but was hampered by ankle sprains the rest of the year. The walk-on from Orange, Calif. trained at Wildfire Gymnastics, qualifying to two Level 10 Regional Championships, and was a league champion in the long jump at Calvary Chapel HS.

Q: Talk about your freshman year at UCLA. Was it everything you had hoped it would be?
A: Yes, I had a great freshman year! It was definitely a little rough in the beginning ... the quarter system was a huge change for me. Once I figured out how to use time management skills, everything became a lot easier! Transitioning from club gymnastics to college was also much easier than I thought. I felt right at home with my teammates from the beginning. We are all so competitive, and that alone has helped my gymnastics to improve a lot. I have wanted to come to UCLA ever since I was little, and I can honestly say it was not what I expected - it was even better!

Q: What were some of the big differences you found between club and NCAA gymnastics?
A: Club and NCAA gymnastics are two completely different worlds. In club, everything is individual. You may train with a team, but when it comes down to it, it's all about you and your gymnastics. NCAA gymnastics, on the other hand, is SO much more fun. You have a team to rely on and to support. It's also more enjoyable to watch. NCAA gymnastics is so much better than club because you not only get to compete for a team, but you get to play up the audience as well. My favorite part of NCAA gymnastics is the audience. I love getting pumped up and performing all out.

Q: You came onto the team as a walk-on. What made you choose UCLA over other schools that could have offered you a full scholarship?
A: The main reason I chose UCLA was because I loved the coaches and how classy the team is. I have wanted to come to UCLA since I was little, like I said earlier, so to me, it was the only option. I went to Meet the Bruins in 1998, and ever since then, I knew I would someday be out there representing UCLA Gymnastics. Miss Val has been such an inspiration to me, and I have always wanted to be coached by her. Then, of course, there were the obvious benefits - not only is it located in Southern California only minutes from the beach, but it is one of the top universities and has one of the best gymnastics programs in the country. I think that pretty much sums up why I would turn down any other college!

Q: You seem to come alive and perform on floor. What was it like exhibitioning your floor routine for the first time in Pauley Pavilion?
A: Oh my gosh, it was incredible. I love, love, love performing! The audience is my favorite part about competing, and I love showing off what I have worked so hard for. I love floor because I can really express my personality in my routine and just have fun! You will definitely be seeing me out there next year. Look out for the eyebrows!

Q: What are your plans for the summer both inside and outside of the gym?
A: Well, right now I am working on campus in the Morgan Center and working gymnastics camps as well. I will be training all summer, whether at UCLA or at home. No big vacations for me, though. I have to be ready for those crazy pre-season workouts! Haha.

Q: What are your expectations for the team next year and how do you feel about not being a freshman anymore?
A: I feel like next year we are going to be an even stronger team. We are getting better day by day, and the freshman class coming in has a lot to bring to the table. I'm really excited to see how well we are going to do next year. Since we barely missed the Super Six this last season by a tie-breaker with Utah, we are all fired up to dominate next year and not let that happen again. Losing is just not an option. I feel that gymnastics is 90% mental and 10% talent, and I believe our team has what it takes to win NCAAs next season.

Q: What are some of your goals for next season?
A: My main focus for next year is getting more flexible and working on my technique. That will make my tumbling a lot easier and make me more consistent. On floor, I am working double layouts and double doubles (double twisting double back) as well as upgrading my front pass to a front-handspring, layout, layout-full. On vault, I am working on a Tsuk 1 1/2 twist, and on bars I am working on getting a new release move. Mainly though, I want to kick butt next year and make the line-up!

Q: You ran varsity track in high school. What was that like, and how do you think that influences your gymnastics?
A: I did track my senior year, and it was an awesome experience. The reason why I decided to join was because I fractured my back and could not compete gymnastics my last year of high school. I was cleared by the doctors to run at this point, but no gymnastics. So naturally, being my competitive self, I decided to try track. I competed in the 100, 200, 4x100 relay, and the long jump. The 4x100 was my favorite event. Funny thing was, I had only tried long jump for three days and ended up winning League Finals and got to compete in CIF for that and the 4x100. Doing track helped my gymnastics so much! I became so much stronger and faster, and that has really helped vault and floor to improve.

Q: What are some of your interests or hobbies outside of gymnastics?
A: Besides gymnastics, I love going to the beach, playing other sports for fun, dancing, meeting new people, and of course being really crazy and weird with Vanessa!

Q: What is the best thing about being a Bruin?
A: All the support! We have so many dedicated fans, coaches, parents, and teammates who would do anything for us. It's an awesome feeling to know there are so many people that support us and our gymnastics. Without them, we would not be true Bruins.

Quick Facts
Q: What are your nicknames?
A: Pritch, Pritchett, P-Rich, Blackout (I blacked out on Goliath, a ride at Six Flags)

Q: What movie can you watch over and over again without getting sick of?
A: Elf!

Q: Favorite color?
A: Aqua and Lime Green

Q: What is one thing you can't live without?
A: My family

Q: Quote or saying that you try to live by:
A: 'Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.'
-Proverbs 3:5-6

Q: Describe yourself in one word.
A: Feisty

Q: If you could trade places with anyone on your team, who would it be and why?
A: Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs - I want to learn the secret to her rock-hard abs!

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