CINCINNATI GYM ACADEMY ; ALABAMA
Did you think about competing for a college program when you were
a little girl training at the Cincinnati Gym Academy? I’ve always
dreamed of competing in college. I watched the NCAA championships
on TV when I was 6 years old and I remember thinking, Look how much
fun they are having. The team looked so happy and it really stuck with
me. The team I watched win on TV? It was the University of Alabama,
and I’ve wanted to come here ever since.
How is training different at the college level from your club days? It’s
a completely different experience! With club gymnastics the practices
are all about repetition of moves, repetition of routines. So I think of my
college practices as sort of like a bank account. When I was 15 I invested in my reps bank account. And now, in college, I am making withdrawals. My tricks are all there.
What has been most surprising to you about competing in college? I
can’t believe I’m so fortunate to have the experiences I am having now.
I was so overwhelmed at first—going to school and taking a full load of
classes, the team practices, being part of Alabama athletics, and just the
whole social aspect of college. When I was a club gymnast my life totally revolved around gymnastics. Now, in college, it is how everything fits
in with school.
I realize how really fortunate I’ve been [with my] upbringing. My parents definitely were not stage parents. They always wanted me to have a
well-rounded life. I had friends outside the gym, I had a really good school
experience, and I was right with God. I didn’t feel all this pressure just to
make the Olympics. There was always more to my life. If my parents had
brought me up differently it would definitely have been harder to make
the transition to college life and college gymnastics.
Why major in Spanish? I had to either take computer science classes or
a few semesters of a foreign language. I am really terrible with computers—seriously! So I took Spanish. What was a random decision to avoid
computer science became a passion for me. I had a cool Spanish teacher
in high school, and now I
just totally love my classes at Alabama. This summer I am doing the
semester study abroad
program. I’ll be going to
Madrid. After I graduate I
want to teach high
Do you think you’ll stay involved in the sport after you graduate? Yes. During the summer I go to different gyms and help
choreograph floor routines. I love to dance. I may continue doing
that after my gymnastics career is over, but that’s about it.
What would you tell a club gymnast who focus on the
Olympics? Is her life over if she doesn’t make it? No, her life is
definitely not over! I would say, keep a balanced lifestyle. You can’t
put all of your energies into just gymnastics, or you’ll be disappointed. Keep your gymnastics dream, but make sure you find
other dreams, too. IG
definitely were not
stage parents. They
always wanted me
to have a well-rounded life.
Tracy Gale is freelance sportswriter and former gymnast who
remains as excited about beam routines and floor music as when she
competed. She is a communications manager for the U. of Florida.