Beyond The Bio: GymHawk Emma Willis

Nov. 1, 2012

Former GymHawk Jessa Hansen sits down with sophomore Emma Willis. In 2012, Willis was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week (1/9/12) after leading the Hawkeyes with top-10 finishes on vault, floor and all-around at the Cancun Classic. Willis competed in every meet, appearing in the all-around on 12 occasions. Willis tied for 15th in the all-around at the Big Ten Championships, posting a career high 39.025. Before joining the GymHawks, the Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, native competed as an international elite gymnast, representing Canada at the 2010 World Championships and 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Why did you choose to attend the University of Iowa?
“Iowa has a great balance of academics and athletics, and I love the tight-knit atmosphere. It makes the school feel comfortable and homey.”

What is your favorite place in Iowa City?
“I love the Pentacrest. I’ll go there to study, read or throw a football around.”

What is your favorite food?
“Like many people on our team, I love sushi. I could eat it every day. I mostly go to Sushi Kitchen because they have the best California tofu roll.”

What is your favorite movie?
“As long as it’s a romantic comedy, I’ll enjoy it (for the most part). One of my favorite movies is The Proposal. Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds are so good together, and Betty White makes me laugh every single time.”

What type of music do you listen to?
“I’ll often listen to Maroon 5 or The Script. The lead vocalists both have such great voices, and their singles are very catchy.”

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
“I’ve always wanted to go to Machu Picchu, Peru. It is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and looks amazing. There is so much history surrounding it, and it looks very serene.”

What are your goals for the 2013 season?
“Our motto for this year is UNI-D, which stands for Unstoppable, Noticeable, Intensity and Discipline. All are key elements that make a great team.”

How does Iowa City compare to your hometown, Sarnia?
“Iowa City is very similar to my hometown. They both have a small population and unique local features. I do miss the ten minute walk to the Lake Huron beach and the view overlooking the Blue Water Bridge.”

What is something you learned as a college student?
“Time management. When you’re a student-athlete, this skill is vital!”

What are your pre-meet rituals?
“I like to have a dance party with my GymHawks.”

Who is your favorite professional athlete?
“I have two favorite athletes: Catalina Ponor and Sydney Crosby.”

If you could guest-star on any television series, which would you choose?
“Glee, because it would be so much fun to perform song covers. I just need to learn how to carry a tune!”

What is your ideal career?
“I would absolutely love to work for Free the Children, a nonprofit organization based out of Vancouver, Canada. This organization helps children in third world countries escape poverty and exploitation. They also have developed programs for North American youth, empowering them to be the change.”

What is your most memorable gymnastics moment?
“Competing at the 2010 World Gymnastics Championships in Rotterdam, Netherlands. During my training I would overthink, so I told my coach that I need my mind to shut-up. Right before I presented to the judges on beam, my coach yelled, “Shut-up Emma!” I performed one of the best beam routines in my life.”

How was the transition from international elite to collegiate gymnastics?
“The transition wasn’t as difficult as I anticipated. In college, the competition atmosphere is much more fun and team oriented in comparison to the elite system. We also get to compete twice as much in collegiate gymnastics. I didn’t really have trouble adjusting, because in the end it’s still gymnastics, and it’s what I love to do.”