GymHawks Handle Intrasquad Challenges

Dec. 4, 2012

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa women’s gymnastics team opened its 2012-13 season on Sunday with the annual Black and Gold Intrasquad in front of a packed house at the UI Field House.

“I loved the atmosphere,” said UI head coach Larissa Libby. “I loved the feel of the way the girls were. In comparison to past years, it was not stressful. We want them to know that there is not a question as to what is going to happen.”

The Hawkeyes have been working on their routines for weeks. Sunday was the first real chance to show off their craft and handle the challenges thrown their way.

“We have been holding intrasquads for the last five weeks,” said Libby. “While you want to see the hype a little bit, you also want to see even-keel as far as their gymnastics goes. There should be no rise and fall because we have done it every weekend for five weeks. It should be no different.”

Sunday’s event marked the first change of scenery for the UI squad — one of the team’s challenges.

“I like how they handled each other. They were split, but they were still paying attention to what was happening across. There are kids that function really well together that were not on the same teams. Those camaraderies and relationships still held through. You like to see that because it is real, it is genuine.
— Head coach Larissa Libby

“The only difference was the environment change,” said Libby. “Now you are bringing in people and lights and the spectacular.”

The Hawkeyes have an extremely young team. Of the 12 student-athletes on the roster, nine are freshmen or sophomores (five freshmen, four sophomores) to go along with three seniors.

The event presented another challenge for the Hawkeye newcomers.

“For the freshmen, it was the first time in front of an audience, competing team against team, full go, hard floor, in a different arena,” said Libby. “I like how they handled themselves.”

Most importantly, the camaraderie and team unity this squad exemplifies is evident, even when split up in an intrasquad event.

“I like how they handled each other,” said Libby. “They were split, but they were still paying attention to what was happening across. There are kids that function really well together that were not on the same teams. Those camaraderies and relationships still held through. You like to see that because it is real, it is genuine.

“They know the sticking points of each person on the team. They know when it is coming, and when it has passed and how to get through that.”

The event winners for the women’s team included sophomore Sydney Hoerr (vault), sophomore Emma Willis (vault, beam, floor), and senior Emma Stevenson (uneven bars).

“It was a challenge going in because the week prior we were down four kids due to injuries and illness,” said Libby. “We have limited depth this year. It was going to be difficult to see and evaluate what we really are. One, because the teams are separate; you are not putting your strongest lineups up, you are putting everybody up. Two, there were two illnesses and two injuries that took out some of our top kids.”

One individual in particular impressed coach Libby.

“Sydney (Hoerr) was diagnosed with strep throat on Thursday,” said Libby. “The fact that she even went on Sunday, is a real credit to her. Having done a really good job on three of the four events, she was the one I was most impressed with.

“She was the one that I felt like has done the job from the beginning to the end. Sickness or not, she could still do the same job because it was automatic for her. She had some problems in warm-up, but quickly got rid of those and they were not seen out on the competition floor.”

Iowa opens the 2013 campaign in Iowa City on Jan. 11 against Ball State.

“We still have work to do, but I like our confidence level,” said Libby.

Fans interested in attending home meets at Carver-Hawkeye Arena should visit hawkeyesports.com or contact the UI Athletics Ticket Office at 1-800 IA-HAWKS for season tickets.