February 14

Where To Go From Here

After my first college competition at Virginia Tech, I had a whole new view of gymnastics. Of course High School gymnastics was very team-oriented and I had my handful of teammates cheering me on, but college was something different.

Instead of about 10 teammates shouting for me, I had a mini army of 40 people yelling, “you got this” or “c’mon Julia”.  They were so loud I couldn’t hear myself think but I loved every second of it. In fact, it’s a great feeling knowing people are rooting for you and want you to succeed.

This encouragement from my teammates gives me confidence and spirit, making me feel unstoppable. It also makes  me love the sport again. Connecting with so many people that have the same interest as me in college made the adjustment to a new environment so much easier. Not only is it easy to relate to the girls, but the guys are just as fun and nice to have around at practice (as I’ve never practiced with guys before).

Anyways, when we came back from Virginia Tech everyone was ecstatic. We had done so well. Nobody imagined we would be winning first place. This turned out to be the best thing for the team as everyone got extremely motivated. Our next competition would be at James Madison University and everyone was ready to show the teams there who the real competition was.

Which, when it came time for the competition, was exactly what we did! Once again our Women’s and Men’s team both took first place. This time I even placed individually. In fact I placed third on vault and fifth on floor over everyone at the meet. You could say I was pretty excited. The only thing that could have made that weekend better would have been having my parents there.

It’s weird now, that after 15 years of competing they can’t make it to my competitions because they are so far away. Regardless though, I know they are just as proud of how well I’ve been doing.

With the JMU meet over all we have left for this season is our home competition in March and Nationals in April! Nationals is what I’m really looking forward too, as everyone tells me it’s a lot of fun because we will be spending 5 days in Fort Worth, Texas… Lets gooo.

In addition to this, with our recent wins everyone believes we have a strong chance of placing top 5 at nationals (as long as we keep up all of our hard work). As long as we remain dedicated and make the most of each practice, I think were have a good chance.

I really can’t wait to see how well this team does at both our home meet and nationals.

Anyways, I’m thankful for Penn State Club Gymnastics and can’t wait to see what the next 3 years of it bring to me once freshman year is over. Whether it be as a gymnast, on the executive board (maybe President of the club one day), or a coach, I am thankful for my club gym family.

As this is my 10th passion blog, I just want to thank everyone who has read and followed my journey throughout gymnastics.

February 8

A Fresh New Start

A summer without gymnastics. Up until the summer of 2017 I had no idea what that meant. Sure I had taken a week off for practice for a family vacation. Maybe 2 weeks if I was lucky. But a whole summer? A whole 3 months?

Well, there was a first for everything, and after 15 years of gymnastics this was the longest break I had ever taken. With this in mind,  it was much needed as well.

Although I was still working in a gym coaching classes, and the lower level girls I never really did escape the sport that summer. That’s probably why three months off from gymnastics felt like nothing. Although I go to do more that summer than any other, the middle of August approached quickly which meant I would be leaving for college for the first time.

I knew that Penn State had a club gymnastics team but I didn’t know much about it. I knew they practiced four times a week, which was a good amount of time to dedicate to a college sport. I also knew they had gone to nationals as well which sounded pretty cool.

And, believe it or not, after 3 months off I was itching to get back into the gym.

So, when it came time to go to the involvement fair I made a beeline for the club gymnastics stand. I HAD to find it in order to learn more about the team. After weaving through the maze of stands I eventually found it. I wrote my name down on a sheet of paper and someone immediately recognized my name. How ironic. In fact, the Vice President lived in the town next to me back home in Massachusetts. The town which had been our biggest rival in High School.

It wasn’t hard for her to convince me to do the team. As we got to talking, she told me when the first meeting/practice was so I was sure to show up there on time with my grips, wrist guards, and leotard at the ready. I was nervous to get back into it though. I kept thinking “what if I can’t do any of my skills anymore?’. But I soon found out that no matter how much time I took off, my body would always remember how to do the skills I spent countless hours practicing. In other words it was like knowing how to ride a bike. You may not ride one for months but as soon as you get back on its like just yesterday you were last on it.

The first week of practice was probably the most fun because I got to learn the names and personalities of everyone on the team. With 50+ teammates this took quite some time. However, it ended up being the best way for me to meet new people and have plans after coming to a completely new school!

My teammates soon became my best friends and the people I related to the most, as many of them were in the same position as me. AKA, Gymnasts who dedicated their entire lives to the sport.

So with what we discovered was a strong freshman class, everyone was very excited for our first competition that would be taking place at Virginia Tech in November. In fact we were so goos that both our Women’s and Men’s teams won! And while I only did vault, bars, and floor all my scores contributed to the team and did well for myself at my first college level competition.