Dec. 18, 2012
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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 opens its 2013 season on Jan. 11, hosting Ball State at 7 p.m. inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Earlier this month, the Hawkeyes embarked on their first public appearance when they hosted the annual Black and Gold Intrasquad.
It provided a chance for the public to get its first look at the GymHawks, and for UI head coach Larissa Libby to see how they handled that forum.
“There were some things that were very good,” said Libby.
While the ninth-year head coach liked some aspects, overall she was disappointed — which is a good sign. Expectations have been raised.
“To the public, people think, ‘holy cow, they are a lot better than what we anticipated because we have lack of depth with only three seniors and we’re a young team,” said Libby. “In my eyes, we have a lot of work to do.
“The great thing… the mindset has changed. They are not guessing if they are going to make their routine or not. Now, is it going to be a 9.9, or 9.4? There is a difference in the details, and that is the shift from last year to this year.”
— Head coach Larissa Libby
“I do not want to be what everyone expects us to be. I want to be better than what people expect us to be. Because of that, I was not as pleased with the performance. Not that I was displeased, because there were a lot of things they did great.”
Libby has her eyes set on a sixth consecutive NCAA postseason appearance in 2013, the seventh in her tenure. The GymHawks are trying to raise the bar yet again.
In 2012, the Hawkeyes finished the season ranked 26th nationally — the highest finish since 2004.
“Were they better than last year, absolutely, but I am not trying to be last year,” said Libby. “We are trying to be what people do not expect Iowa to be.
“When we come out of the gate in January, they need to be two points better than that. It is not falls, it is details. We have been detail-oriented for weeks.”
To continuously raise the bar, the GymHawks focus on the details.
“The great thing… the mindset has changed,” said Libby. “They are not guessing if they are going to make their routine or not. Now, is it going to be a 9.9, or 9.4? There is a difference in the details, and that is the shift from last year to this year.”
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. Youth is present, but so is potential.
“The potential is there,” said Libby. “If it was not there, then they were phenomenal (in the Intrasquad). As a coaching staff, if we did not believe in the potential of being Big Ten champions, then we would accept what we did (in the Intrasquad) as phenomenal. It was OK, if you want to be the Big Ten champion. It was phenomenal if you want to be better than last year.”
After the solid 2012 campaign, the focus is on bigger and better in 2013.
“I do not want to be better than last year, I want them to be Big Ten champions,” said Libby. “Last year, they would have been OK with just not falling. This year, they are not OK with not being perfect, because they know how to be. They have seen it, lived it, and worked on it. That is a whole notch above where we have been able to work before.
“It is hard. It is not an easy expectation, but if that is the expectation, and we fall short, we are still going to be better than we were last year — on every level, every aspect. No question.”
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.