Nov. 15, 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 the preseason training, last season's experience, and what lies ahead for the 2013 season.
Brad: Scott, you're entering your 17th season as an assistant coach here at Michigan. As a coach, were the circumstances regarding last season pretty unique, or had you experienced something like that before?
Scott: Yes, we went through something like that before back in 2003. That was the year that Elise Ray and Kallie Steffes got hurt. We had eight athletes and still managed to win the Big Ten Championships and go to the Super Six. We had a choice. We could either keep pushing and do what we do, or fall apart. That group then did the same thing as last year. They came together and stepped up their effort and routines. They surpassed everyone's expectations. With those people out, nobody would have thought we could have done that. We put together a team that could have gone to nationals and looked like it belonged. In the end, it's one of the seasons that I'm most proud of. They had to dig deep. Everyone did. The girls stepped up and did more than anyone would have thought they could have done.
Brad: Lindsay mentioned last week that the floor lineup would be a pretty tough one to crack. Talk about the depth that you've got at that spot this year.
Shannon: We do have quite a bit of depth at floor. Sometimes, you specialize on your kids to make sure they are healthy for the events that they can help you most. Every student-athlete on our team can contribute a floor routine, which is exciting. Lindsay was absolutely correct. There is going to be a lot of competition in the gym, which usually translates to some pretty exciting stuff out on the floor.
Brad: Let's talk about uneven bars. Sometimes it was a struggle last year, having to go with five at certain points down the stretch. Having Brittnee and Natalie back healthy gives a boost to that group, though, right?
Scott: I'm excited to not only have Natalie and Brittnee back, but with the freshmen we have, it's nice to have depth at the position. We have 12 student-athletes that can do an uneven bars routine. If those incoming freshmen can reach what we think their potential is, I don't think it's going to be our weakest event. It's going to be very competitive. Plenty of kids can score 9.8 and above. It's a nice place to be.
Brad: Vault was arguably the team's strongest event last season and you had Big Ten and Regional champions to show it. Do you think that's the case again this year?
Shannon: I hope so! I certainly think we have the talent and depth to perform as well, if not better than last year.
Brad: This last one is for both of you. In talking about this season, there's a renewed optimism and hunger to get Michigan back to national prominence and show that last year was just a hiccup. From a coaching perspective, give me your overall thoughts on how training has been going, and what you think this team can accomplish this season.
Scott: I think training is going very well. We set a conscious goal to try and be prepared earlier for the season, and we're seeing the results of that now. The idea behind that being that by the time we get to season, we're a lot more confident. Last year, when we hit, we got good scores. The trouble was putting together four events in the same meet during the first half of the season. We want to eliminate that this year. I think there's also a rejuvenated feeling, but I think that we feel that because of what we went through last year. People had to step up and prove themselves on fairly short notice. They've started from that position and continued to improve and move forward. This team is capable of getting back to what Michigan Gymnastics has always been, which is being competitive for the Big Ten Championship and being an NCAA contender. I think we're back, and these guys are excited. They've been through last year, and this is their reward for it.
Shannon: I think it all started right after the end of the year last year. We had a lot of kids that decided that how we ended wasn't good enough and wasn't what they wanted. Boy, they immediately took action. They worked hard over the summer, which has carried over into this preseason. I don't think there's a renewed optimism or expectations; those have always been there. I do think there's a renewed dedication. It was more like, 'Ok, if we want to get this done, we have to change some things.' That was the decision. It's been a fun preseason and the expectations are high. They've put in the hard work and I think they have the right to those expectations.
Sept. 20 - Katie Zurales
Sept. 27 - Stephanie Colbert
Oct. 4 - Annette Miele
Oct. 11 - Austin Sheppard
Oct. 18 - Natalie Beilstein
Oct. 25 - Reema Zakharia
Nov. 1 - Sachi Sugiyama
Nov. 8 - Lindsay Williams