The Weekly Warmup: Joanna Sampson
Joanna Sampson

Dec. 20, 2012

Welcome to the Weekly Warmup! Each Thursday during the preseason,'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.

This week's edition of the Weekly Warmup features junior Joanna Sampson.

Brad: Describe what it meant to you to be named captain for this team.
Joanna: It was definitely very exciting. It makes me very happy to know that this team has a lot of confidence in me and that they think I have what it takes to be a leader on this team. I've been working on becoming a leader ever since I came to Michigan. To see myself change over the years and know that my team has my back is an amazing feeling.

Brad: Having seen this team in practice for months and in a meet environment, what do you think the team's strengths are and where do you think the team can improve?
Joanna: You know, as a whole, we're strong all over the place. Like others have said, we're in such a better position now than at this point last year or even after we got into last season. Specifically, I think we're a very good vault team. On uneven bars and everywhere else, we can work on sticking a few dismounts. On beam, we're going to continue to work on our confidence and remember how to stay calm in a meet situation. Floor was a strong point, too. We did a good job showing off our routines. We're going to make little mistakes along the way, but the key is doing a good job in learning from those, which I think we'll do.

Brad: Individually, what's the biggest thing you learned from last year?
Joanna: We always say it but never give up. You never know what turn things are going to take. Last year, we started out alright but then we hit some problems on the road and it became hard for us to get through practices or meets with our spirits high. To turn around the way we did at the end of last year and to finish strongly was an amazing feeling. Even though we didn't make the NCAA Championships as a team, it provided us all with a lot of fight and gave us a goal to get back there. To see how much drive we had last year, I'm excited to see how it will turn out this year, especially considering that we've not lost anyone.

Brad: Talk about what your mindset is in practice. From what I've seen, you've looked much more focused mentally and are performing your routines pretty aggressively. Do you think that's accurate?
Joanna: I do. Part of me says no. I am the kind of person who goes on autopilot anytime I do something. I don't like to think about it. This summer, I played around and had fun, and that's translated to where I am now. I found more of a passion for the sport than I did the past few years. In turn, that's allowed me to be more aggressive and confident with my gymnastics, especially after last year. We want to make the best of it that we can. That's driving me and the rest of the team to work that much harder and be that much more focused in everything we do.

Brad: What is the team's primary goal heading into the Cancun Invitational?
Joanna: I think our main goal is to expand on what we've done in practice and in the exhibition. We really showed what we can do this early in the season and now it's time to step it up a little more. We need to hit those handstands that we missed and take away a couple steps on our landings. We're going to go in, be strong and go further than where we already are.

Previous Entries:
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
Nov. 15 - Scott Sherman and Shannon Welker
Nov. 21 - Brittnee Martinez
Nov. 28 - Shelby Gies
Dec. 6 - Morgan Smith
Dec 13 - Teresa Arthur

»  Learn about 2017 Michigan women's gymnastics ticket opportunities.