Sept. 20, 2012
Welcome to the Weekly Warmup! Each Thursday during the preseason, MGoBlue.com's Brad Rudner will sit down with each member of the University of Michigan women's gymnastics team to talk about preseason training, last season's experience and what lies ahead for the 2013 season.
The first edition of the Weekly Warmup features senior captain Katie Zurales (Wheaton, Ill.).
Brad: First off, tell me a little bit about your summer.
Katie: It was great. I got to go on a little vacation to Cape Cod and went to Peru for two weeks at the end of the summer to do some medical volunteering. I helped out at an orphanage and assisted them in opening an HIV clinic, which was really meaningful to me, because I could see immediate change and how grateful they were for that. That was one of the more rewarding parts. We got to do some touristy things too. We climbed a mountain. We got to go to the jungle. Overall, it was extremely rewarding and a nice way to spend a summer, helping people out elsewhere where they really need it. It definitely opened my eyes to different things.
Brad: What is the one thing you are looking forward to most about this upcoming season?
Katie: I'm looking to forward to everyone being healthy and having a really awesome season. We're going to have so much more depth this year. I think people are already really, really motivated to do well, to push forward, to overcome last season and make this season incredible. Especially since it's my senior year, I want the team to do well, and I want my last season to be the best it can be.
Brad: Looking back to last season, it was challenging in a lot of aspects. What did you take away from that experience?
Katie: As a team, we learned that we could push through anything. That sets us up to be confident this year, knowing that we got through a meet when two people went down and got through a meet when we had only seven people competing. That gave each person confidence and helped with our depth, because more people got experience competing in meet environments. That's really going to help us this year, knowing that we can get through whatever is thrown at us. When we're hitting everything and have everyone back healthy, it's going to be that much more rewarding and exciting.
Brad: What about for you, as an individual? You were a captain last season and are again this year. What did you learn about yourself as a leader?
Katie: I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I can still do my gymnastics well; and be efficient even when my body is hurting, especially in those pressure situations. I want to carry that on to my team. I want them to be able to depend on me and I want to teach them that if they're deciding they can hit, they can do it. Each one of us has that ability. As a captain, I really learned how to pick the team up the best I could when we were down -- just by doing little things, whether that's decorating the locker room or bringing the team together after a practice. Keeping an open mind on how to motivate the team in different ways was one of the biggest things I picked up on.
Brad: What are some of the things that you want to do as a gymnast this season that you maybe weren't able to do last year?
Katie: I want to be with my team on the floor at the NCAA Championships at the end of the year. I think we all deserve to be there. This preseason, we've been doing a lot of cardio and conditioning hard. We've already been doing some good numbers, getting our skills in. I think with that ultimate goal in mind, it's going to be a really good season.