The NCAA Weekly|9 September

1. Alabama sophomore Bailie Key announced last week with a letter on Twitter that she also was sexually abused by Larry Nassar. She decided to share her story in order to heal completely, and now writes: ‘I am sharing my story because I have held onto it for so long and I am ready to let it go to move on completely. Yes, something terrible happened, but it does not define me. I know that it has somehow made me a stronger person today. I also believe in forgiveness and as hard as it was, I have forgiven Larry. Thank you to my family, coaches and friends for standing by my side and always being here for me no matter what. I have so much more ahead of me that I want to accomplish in life and I will not let Larry stop me anymore.’

2. Alabama alumna Amanda Jetter also came forward as a victim of Larry Nassar. She wrote on Twitter: ‘It is very hard to speak up and tell everyone your story, especially when cruel, evil people are in the sport I love so much. I, too, am a victim of Larry Nassar. One time is too many and I feel for EVERYONE who has been affected by him. Thank you for the love and support. It is time to step out and not keep this hidden any longer.’

3. Michigan junior Polina Shchennikova has announced her medical retirement with a thoughtful and heart-breaking letter on Twitter. Polina is retiring because of a persistent back injury, which could have serious consequences on her health if she does not stop doing gymnastics. She injured her back the first time when she was fourteen, but against her doctor’s recommendation, she decided to continue with her gymnastics career. Her dream was to compete at the Olympics and then in college. When the pain started again while she was training for the Olympics, she had to give up her dream and find new goals – she wanted to have a great college career at Michigan. But then the pain started again, and extended to her legs. She could not have been able to walk again, had she not stopped gymnastics. She now asks: ‘You always hear about the successful people and their story about how they got there, but what about the people who did just as much as those successful people, maybe even more, but their best just wasn’t good enough?’ Polina will stay at Michigan as student assistant coach, and will choreograph beam and floor routines for both her club gym, 5280 Gymnastics, and for her college team. She will live her elite dreams through the outstanding career of her sister Alyona.

4. Georgia sophomore Madison McPherson and junior Jordyn Pedersen have also announced their retirement. Madison was the 2015 Georgia state champion on bars, but did not compete at all during her freshman year due to a shoulder injury. Jordyn competed on bars and floor during her sophomore year, and scored career-highs of 9.850 on both events. She hopes to stay on the team in administrative capacity.

5. It was a week of awards for the Oklahoma Sooners at the Annual Banquet. Brenna Dowell was named Most Outstanding Athlete after her junior season. Brenna is the 2018 NCAA co-champion on vault, as well as the Big-12 co-champion on floor, and scored a perfect 10.0 on vault at UCLA. Maggie Nichols won the Kelly Garrison Award, given to the most valuable athlete. Maggie is a three-time 2018 NCAA champion in the all around, on bars and floor, as well as the first ever gymnast in NCAA history to record a ‘Gym Slam’ twice in her career. Anastasia Webb was named the Freshman of the Year. Anastasia is the 2018 Big-12 co-champion on floor, and scored a perfect 10.0 on beam at UCLA. Nicole Lehrmann was honored with the OU Most Improved Award. Nicole competed only two events in 2017, but debuted in the all around in 2018. She is the 2018 Big-12 bars champion, as well as third nationally on that event. Bre Showers was named the NCAA Tournament MVP for her outstanding performances at the NCAA Championships. Bre had competed only twice in the all around before Nationals, but there she competed on all four apparatuses both days of competition. Stefani Catour was named the Most Consistent Gymnast after a fantastic senior season, which won her two second-team All-American honours on bars and beam. Finally, Samantha Craus was awarded the Bonomo Spirit Award, given to the athlete who is the spirit of the team and has the strongest and most valuable influence on her teammates. Samatha suffered a career-ending injury before the 2018 season, but decided to come back and contribute to the team in other ways.

6. Utah State posted a training montage on Instagram. Among the highlights, freshman Glory Yoakum is training a a very difficult and very rare Li Ya on bars – a straddled Jaeger with a half turn to catch in mixed grip. While senior Madison Ward is training the always beautiful back handspring to layout step-out to layout step-out series on beam.

7. Ohio State senior Jamie Stone has been a three-event specialist (vault, beam and floor) for the past three years, but she is now training also bars. She is working a giant full to double tuck dismount. Her team wrote about her on Instagram: ‘Old dogs learn new tricks… or events in Senior Jamie Stone’s case! #still❤️learning‘ Can she make the lineup next year?

8. Kent State freshman Maddie Trott was shown on Instagram training a new difficult combination on bars: giant half to Jaeger to bail.

9. UW-Stout sophomore Maddie Mullenbach, who was a rock on floor last season, is hoping to increase her difficulty on that event, and is now training a front double twist.

10. It is retreat time for some teams, a few days of exercise in nature, during which the team will bond together. Ball State was at the Flat Rock River YMCA Camp doing all sorts of sports activities, from climbing to archery. And Utah spent the Labor Day weekend at the Deer Valley Ski Resort participating in a life skills retreat, including how to cook a meal with healthy ingredients. And speaking of good health, William & Mary spent last Saturday at the Patriot Sprint Triathlon in Williamsburg.

Routine of the week

Polina Shchennikova on beam in 2018 against Michigan State. She retired last week due to serious back problems.

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