Well I’ll start by saying…I love it! After only a month and a half this experience has taught me so much about coaching a Division 1 gymnastics team. I am getting to know the girls a lot better and how I can help them individually, including when to give them a couple moments to themselves. Having 17 girls on a team means 17 different personalities (even the twins, Brynn and Lindsey, have their own quirks and idiosyncrasies) and ways of doing gymnastics. This was new to me.
Working with the Arkansas team last year was great because I knew all the returners so I only had to get to know the freshmen. Plus I had been a part of the program for four years so I knew the system and how things worked. As a student volunteer coach, Mark and Rene welcomed my input, but contributing in a coaching role rather than with my gymnastics was uncharted territory for me. For the most part I just listened to them and observed how they handled different situations so I could learn as much as possible from the opportunity they had given me. Thus confirming my interest in coaching college gymnastics. Read the rest of this entry »
Making the decision to come coach at Western was not extremely easy for me to do. After getting the call from Dave and coming up for a 10-day visit to see if I wanted to take his offer, I think I knew in my heart it was the right thing for me. But that would mean moving away from my boyfriend Scott, great friends I had made in Austin, and my amazing teammates, coaches, and staff at Capital Gymnastics who welcomed me into their family as soon as I arrived. Once I knew for sure it was what I wanted I had to start packing and planning out the move.
Luckily I had a driving partner for most of the trip up here. My brother’s best friend and basically my second older brother moved to Austin about 2 months before I left. He enthusiastically accepted my request as a trip buddy and after a sad goodbye for me, away we went! We made a pit stop in Fayetteville so I could see all the friends I miss so dearly at Arkansas and were on our way to Chicago. We stayed at my uncle’s that night, Mike flew out of O’Hare the next morning, and I finished the quick drive to Kalamazoo a few hours later.
Getting into town was a little surreal. It was a Sunday so there was no practice, and the team were the only people I knew – and not very well after only a 10-day trip 2 months past. I drove straight to the apartment I found online, signed the lease and got the keys, and started unloading my jam-packed car while waiting for my roommate to walk in so we could meet for the first time. I had all sorts of emotions going on.
My roommate Kristen turned out to be awesome. We got along immediately and are both very grateful things worked out so well. My first official practice with the team was the next day, and the following few days were a blur. Coaching the girls, getting my own practices in, getting temporary parking passes…and tickets, trying to get in the system as an employee, not being in anyone’s system, (I still have yet to be in the system to get a WMU ID). Whew! What a week.
It wasn’t long until things got worked out and I began feeling much more settled in this town I knew very little about. I joked with my family and friends that I knew a total of 4 streets in Kalamazoo – the ones taking me from my place to the gym, to the grocery store, and back home. That was true for the first 2 weeks I was here until I flew back home for Christmas. Since returning, however, I have discovered a natural foods store, a coffee shop to read at, and yesterday I went to the mall with my roommate and her friend! So I’m getting out and about a little bit more and will continue to explore as the weeks go on
Stay tuned for Part 2…Coaching the Bronco Gymnastics Team!
My parents first taught me a basic recipe for a homemade healthy smoothie and I’ve made my own minor adjustments over the last few years depending on what I may be craving or if I’m needing a little extra of something. I try to make one every morning because I feel such a big difference in my energy at practice when I’ve had my smoothie. It’s great because the natural sugars from the fruit give you a burst of energy to start the day and you get your fruit servings in right away! Here ya go, enjoy!
–4 medium-size strawberries OR 3/4 cup frozen fruit of choice
–2 heaping spoonfuls of yogurt (I go for the greek yogurt to get a little more protein)
–1/2 cup juice of choice, OR milk/milk-substitute, OR water, OR coconut water (my option)
–1-2 Tbsp. (or to taste) nutritional yeast*
–1 tsp. bee pollen*
*You can find these at your local health food store. Nutritional yeast will be in the bulk food section, and you may have to ask where to find the bee pollen because I’m not sure of what section it lives in.
My current additions:
–Couple generous shakes of cinnamon
–1/2-1 Tbsp. organic tahini** (for calcium, healthy fats, protein, B-vitamins, and vitamin E)
–1-2 Tbsp. (or to taste) Peanut butter**
–1/2 Tbsp. honey for a little added sweetness or 1 tsp. vanilla extract for a little flavor
–1 raw egg (if you’re feeling adventurous!)
A couple tips to keep in mind if you’re wanting to watch your sugar, fat, and/or calorie intake…
–If you want it a bit sweeter, choose either flavored yogurts OR a little honey, NOT both. Vanilla yogurt is super tasty but has a lot of sugar, even in the low- and non-fat options. Or go for the original yogurt which has minimal sugar and you can add a little honey.
–If you choose fruit juice, this also has quite a bit of sugar, so just keep that in mind when choosing yogurt and option of adding honey
**I use organic tahini (hulled sesame seeds) as opposed to peanut butter because although it has a bit more calories and fat, it’s the healthy unsaturated fats your body needs, and also tends to have less sodium, carbs, and sugar, and roughly the same amount of fiber and protein. Some organic peanut butters are similar to tahini in the sense of the unsat. fats, but not all, so make sure to check the label. Whether you go with the tahini or the peanut butter, try not to add too much as that’s where the calories and grams of fat add up. Not to mention tahini has quite a distinct taste, which is bitter in comparison to peanut butter. You may be able to find organic tahini and peanut butter at your local grocery store, but if they don’t have these options then the health food store is the next place to look.
–I use coconut water rather than fruit juice because it has fewer calories, fat, and sugar, plus many added benefits. Zico coconut water has a couple different flavors including citrus, pineapple, and now chocolate, because the original has an interesting taste to it, some people like it, others not so much. Click on the link to see all it’s benefits!
If you give the smoothie a try with no honey, no fruit juice, and just original yogurt and it turns out to be way to bland with just the natural sugars from the fruits, then start out making the smoothies with fruit juice, honey, and/or flavored yogurt and slowly ween yourself off of the extra sugary items one by one! Just make sure to watch your sugar intake the rest of the day
I hope you give it a try and enjoy it! And if you come up with a new addition please let me know, I’d love to try a new twist to my daily kick-start.
I made a huge change in my life and moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan! I was asked to be a second assistant coach by Dave Kuzara, the head coach of the Western Michigan Broncos and my former assistant at Arkansas from 07-09. Here’s the press release that Western’s Kristen Keirns of media relations wrote up about my accepting of the position:
On August 27th, 2011 International Gymnastics Camp put on the debut of Evolution – Professional Gymnastics Like Never Before – a dream turned reality of Brent Klaus.Evolution was a skill-based competition where the nation’s top men and women gymnasts went head-to-head to vie for the first ever title and bragging rights…not to mention prize money Read the rest of this entry »
Whew…what a long and somewhat tiring week that was, and it flew by. Quick summary: the seniors had 7 practices and 2 competitions in 5 days, so you could say they kept us pretty busy. The practices generally alternated between the auxiliary gym and on the competition podium. The auxiliary gym gave us another place to practice when the men were on podium, and vice-versa; though it had brand new equipment on brand new (so quite stiff) mats on concrete, so that tended to be the lighter practices for most girls.
One of the auxiliary practices was really frustrating for me. I was having a hard time maintaining my focus on beam and as a result was all over the place. It didn’t take me long to figure out what my deal was, and the next practice on podium was much better so I felt more confident going into the meet.
An interesting thing about the Covergirl Classic and Visa Championship competitions is that because they are broadcasted live, they want to showcase the superstars, so they have event personnel with ear pieces standing behind the judges to give them the go-ahead to raise the flag for the gymnast. If this happens, that gymnast may be the only one competing at that time. This way they can decide who the cameras and audience are focusing on. It’s a pretty cool thing, although it could add pressure if you allow it, knowing everyone’s eyes are on you. The competition also takes longer this way, so if you’re last on an event, you could be waiting around for a while, which happened to me… Read the rest of this entry »
I cannot claim being a Texan because I will always remain an Oregonian at heart, but I wouldn’t mind saying I’m almost an Austinite. Having yet to take advantage of the “Live Music Capital of the World” aspect of this fabulous city, I have already fallen in love. The food is amazing (seriously, everywhere I go), the people are eclectic and friendly, and the gym I’m training at couldn’t be more perfect for the goals I’m trying to reach.
The community here is all about being healthy and active. With as many natural and organic grocery stores and restaurants as not, eating healthy here is made easy. Many restaurants have a “Gluten-free” menu upon request – side note: I’m not allergic to gluten but it’s great that the option is made available to the growing population that is – which I think is pretty cool. A couple of my favorites so far are Torchy’s Tacos – aaamazing tacos with fresh grilled meat, veggies, and a variety of homemade salsas, and Bouldin Creek Café with a delicious tofu scrambler or 2 eggs over medium on toast or a bagel – I’ve heard their omelets are tasty as well.
The daily dose of vitamin D the sun provides offers a great excuse to go outside and exercise. The beautiful and lush Green Belt is a seemingly endless nature preserve encompassed by running/hiking trails with tree-cover to shade from the blazing sun, a creek perfectly placed for a quick dip when even in the shade the 100+ temperatures become unbearable, and natural rock walls for the avid climber or interested passerby. It is a super bicycle- and running-friendly city – most main roads have bike lanes and paths are easy to come by with popular picks like Shoal Creek and the Town Lake loop. And running stores like Rogue Equipment make joining a running and core program a fun activity to look forward to each day rather than the common “ugh, do I have to go work out today?” attitude.
Capital Gymnastics and Officially Qualifying
Training with Barry Hyder at Capital has been amazing. His knowledge of the sport and easy-going demeanor are exactly what I need at this stage of my sport. Sharon Bunch is one of the upper level coaches and often works with us on beam and floor. Well educated and very helpful, she has a great sense of humor but makes sure you get your work done. Jason Jarrett, son of Jim and Cheryl who founded Capital Gymnastics runs the gym. I coach with him in the afternoons and his passion for the program and helping young girls reach their potential in the sport they love is evident every day.
I’m progressively getting stronger and building up endurance I lost in the transition of finishing the Arkansas season as the volunteer coach, graduating, moving down to Austin, and adjusting to a different training regimen. I have only myself to blame for the valley I slipped in to slightly, but you can’t have peaks without valleys, right?
I’d have to admit that I’ve already had a couple peaks since moving… finally passing the compulsories officially made me a senior international elite, having retroactively qualified optionally for the Classics. Then last weekend at the American Classic I got the 3-event score necessary to qualify for USA Visa Championships! I qualified on vault, balance beam, and floor exercise. I still have one more chance at the U.S. Covergirl Classic in Chicago to get the all-around score to be able to compete uneven bars as well, but without the pressure of still needing to qualify at all, I just plan to compete as best as I can, make improvements from last weekend, and have fun! Isn’t that why I’m still doing this crazy sport anyway?
For those of you unfamiliar with the scores necessary to qualify to USAs, I will try to clarify. The all-around score (which I’ll be trying to get) is a 54.0 – this averages to a 13.5 on each of the four events. If you wanted to qualify on any three events, the score is a 41.25 or 13.75 average. The two-event score is a 28.0, so an average of 14.0 on two events is needed. Basically, the fewer events you do, the better you should be at them. My scores last weekend were:
Uneven bars: 11.6 – not good at all, lost 1.0 for falling, and the rest of my routine was totally thrown off
Balance beam: 14.6 – good, now I just need to reach that 15.0+
Floor exercise: 13.25 – definitely needs improvement; need to clean up some landings and increase my difficulty
Vault: 14.0 – good score for a full-twisting yurchenko, but I need to get a 1.5 twist which is worth more and can only be landed if the pre-flight (or entry onto the vaulting table) is improved
All-around: 53.45 – only 0.55 away from the all-around score I needed even with a terrible bar routine. Three-event score for vault, beam, and floor: 41.85
All I can say is I am SO extremely excited about qualifying for USA Visa Championships -- the best showcase of the nation’s top elite gymnasts…and I get to compete with them! They are being held in St. Paul/Minneapolis August 17-20th. The men compete on Wednesday and Friday and the women compete on Thursday and Saturday. Very exciting!
Thank EVERYONE for the amazing support you have given me in this journey I have undertaken. I honestly can’t begin to explain how much it helps keep me going when I’m having a rough day or wondering if my goals are too lofty. But you all make it worth it, so I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I want to give a special thanks to Robby Edwards who wrote this article and all the people at the U of A who helped put it together, it really meant a lot to me! Arkansas Razorback Gymnastics
I also want to thank Anne from gymnastike for featuring my beam after winning the event at the American Classic last weekend. You’re amazing Anne! I sincerely appreciate it! Gymnastike Feature
P.S…I’ve been told they are looking for a few more senior elites to be considered for the U.S. Team to compete at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico in October so I’m going to put my pedal to the metal and work as hard as I can to impress the National Team staff these next two meets and who knows what’ll happen?! It’s a fun and motivating thought anyway
I apologize, AGAIN, for my extremely delayed recap of the qualifier and update on my training. Traveling with the team and more hours in the gym has kept me more occupied than I realized. I’ll do my best to make this brief but informative.
I imagine many of you have seen the videos of my bars, beam, and floor from the qualifier that were filmed by staff at the meet. I will post the links for those of you who haven’t seen them, and I also just uploaded my bars and beam that my coach Mark filmed for me. He wasn’t able to get vault, and floor came out blurry, but the quality is better on the one already posted anyway.
I was nervous again. Not as much on vault and bars, but definitely on beam. I think I was slightly shocked I made my mount and then could not settle in for the rest of the routine. It wasn’t so much that I actually made the mount, because they had been going well in practice, but competing it for the first time was a rush. And since I was off balance but managed to hold on, I had a little bit of a “Oh, wow, what now?” moment. Funny thing was that my triple turn which had probably been the most inconsistent in training was the most solid skill of the routine. Now I just need to relax, and let all the other skills be normal.
The atmosphere was quite serious, like the other elite sessions I’ve attended, so I did my best to just have fun and enjoy being there. I had a long talk with my dad afterward about what I can do to simulate what a meet was like while I was on the team at Arkansas. It won’t ever be the same, for obvious reasons like being a lone competitor, but one suggestion he gave me was to try interacting more with the girls I rotate with. Cheer for them, give them high fives after their routines, little things that they may or may not notice but will keep my spirits up. I always make it a point to learn their names and cheer for them, but I think I’m going to give his advice a try and be more involved with them (while not breaking their concentration, of course). And who knows, maybe they will have more fun too!
Before the qualifier I had been training with the Ark team during their practices. Since then, however, I have been training separately. The change was made to better take advantage of my “volunteer student coach” position and help out more in their workouts. Training by myself can be a little lonely, but I don’t mind too much. The hardest part has been lack of consistency. I’ve traveled with the team all year, but post-season traveling is longer than regular season. For SEC’s and Regionals we traveled Thursday-Sunday, and for NCAA National Championships last week we left super early Wednesday morning and got back late yesterday morning.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, by any means. I am extremely happy and thankful for the opportunity to continue helping out the team and traveling with them. Just for my own training purposes, consistency is of course ideal. I considered last week my last “break” until the qualifier in July. I am definitely feeling the lost hours of sleep and inconsistent eating patterns from the course of the 6 day trip.
I graduate from the University 3 weeks from this Saturday (I can’t believe it’s SO soon!) and after that I am moving down to Austin, TX to train with Barry Hyder at Capital Gymnastics. I am super stoked about the move -- to beginning a new chapter in my life!
I intend to go to a compulsory competition at the end of May, and then pass optionals at the July 2nd qualifier at the National Team Training Center in Huntsville, TX. I will write up some shorter blogs more often over the course of the next 2 and a half months to keep you all updated. Thanks for reading! Another post with a few more training details soon to come!