Photograph: Stella Savvidou/Instagram
The time has finally come, the ladies are back in the gym! Offseason is arguably the time when national champions are made, because this is the time of year when strength and endurance are built, routines are created and perfected, and teams bond together.
The current champions, the Oklahoma Sooners, had a busy ‘holiday’ season in the gym, because, in their own words, ‘Champions have no offseason’.
National runner-ups, the LSU Tigers, are also back in the gym. Senior Myia Hambrick is the new team leader, while LSU alumna Ashleigh Gnat watches on the sidelines as the new graduate assistant coach. In addition to practice, last week the Tigers were at the Winn Dixie on Burbank, to help pack the truck for victims of Hurricane Harvey. Literally ‘all heart’!
Alabama also joined forces to help for Hurricane Harvey Relief.
The Florida Gators had their first day of practice of the new season on 20 September. They have so many familiar faces from elite gymnastics on their roster, that their practice sessions seem to come directly out of a USA Gymnastics Ranch Camp (with only an additional spark on fun) – exciting!
Last week, the UCLA Bruins had their beginning-of–year retreat in Woodward, a four-day camp, where the team comes together to get acquainted with each other, kick off the season, and dance a lot, of course!
Georgia went on their retreat at the end of August, to build the team around new head coach Courtney Kupets Carter and former head coach Suzanne Yoculan (who may not be head coach anymore, but certainly leads the Gymdogs’ fashion show, standing out in all pictures in her white overall dress at camp).
Utah went on their annual retreat camp at the beginning of September in Park City, Utah, where the main goal was team bonding. In addition to gymnastics, the Utes also showed off their cooking skills.
Michigan State had their retreat at Mac Wood’s Dune Rides last week, which included (guess what?!) a special ride on the dunes!
Michigan are also back in the gym. In addition to practice, the Wolverines helped set up a new messages of hope board in the academic centre, to support fellow students when they feel down, as part of the Suicide Prevention Month. Sophomore Sam Roy explained: ‘This is a way for people having a hard week to look at some motivational quotes to help get them through it. So many people have important things to say and these messages could change someone’s life. It also shows that people close to us may be struggling and maybe a message we write can help them.’
Last week the Oregon State Beavers were engaged in a lot of extra-gym activities. On 18 September, they spent the morning reading to and playing with children at Oak Elementary school in Albany. On 19 September, they took the Oregon State University’s Adventure Leadership Institute’s Challenge Course, whose aim was to show that, paraphrasing their hashtag, everything is earned, not given.
The Arkansas Razorbacks were also on a retreat last week, and finished off camp with a yoga session.
Cal kicked off the school year in August with their annual Big C BBQ.
Bowling Green started practice last week. Over the weekend, they volunteered at the Komen walk in Toledo, Ohio.
After their official Kickoff at the end of August for their fans’ delight, the BYU Cougars kicked off practice on 5 September.
The UAA Seawolves were also super-excited to start practice on 22 September.
Stanford had their gym refurbished just on time for the new season to start, and to welcome back former Cardinal star and new head coach Tabitha Yim.
After welcoming new head coach Sarah Brown, Penn State also started official practice on 19 September.
Article by Talitha Ilacqua