Feb. 3, 2016
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa women’s gymnastics team returns home for another Big Ten contest against No. 14 Nebraska on Saturday, Feb. 6. The meet is set for 11 a.m. (CT) inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena and will be broadcast live on Big Ten Network. With half of the season in the books, the GymHawks are focusing on refining the final 10 percent of their skills.
“The last 10 percent is going to take quite a bit longer,” said UI head coach Larissa Libby. “It is just the mentality of knowing every time you go out to compete you are fail proof. When you’re in the heat of battle, I don’t think any athlete knows it is a 100 percent sure thing. The mentality behind that thought process is there and we are 90 percent there.
“We have a couple gaps where we aren’t sure. We are working to close those gaps so that every time we go out we know what to expect. Then if you make a mistake it is not that big of a deal. It is more of a fluke because making a mistake is not the expectation anymore. I think they have done a really great job staying consistent. If you want to be seen as legitimate, you have to be consistent. That is the 10 percent we are working on now and we have time.”
While there are still areas to work on, it is clear that the GymHawks have already made great strides this season.
“I think they have done a really great job because we have made a lot of changes,” said Libby. “It is difficult with a team of 22 athletes. We have the ability to re-evaluate and be a little pickier with who we select each week. We have made changes almost every week. I think they have done a really good job of adapting the mentality of what is best for the team.”
Even with so many athletes working for a limited number of spots, the GymHawks maintain their strong team dynamic regardless of the healthy competition.
“We don’t have people that are whining when they come out of the lineup,” said Libby. “Everyday you are competing for your spot. While on one side that can be detrimental because it is mentally taxing, it is also helpful mentally because you are getting tougher every day. It is almost a relief to compete because you have earned your spot. I couldn’t be more proud of this team. They take everything they do to heart, and they take all of our mental training very seriously.
“This team is incredible. They really listen, pay attention, they are invested, they have questions, and you can see them physically implement the things that we talk about. Personally, I think that is rare. I think a lot of athletes brush things off easily. Our team has gotten better because they take everything to heart.”
This weekend, the GymHawks are doing their best to narrow their focus on their details — regardless of Nebraska’s No. 14 ranking.
“Right now what works best for us is staying in the moment and focus on controlling the things we can control,” said Libby. “When we step into the gym, we drop all personal intentions and do what is best for the team. They have grown tremendously in so many ways, both mentally and physically. More importantly, I would say, they are one of the greatest teams we have ever coached.
“We are very process driven. We know that we have to stay right here. We don’t look at the other team and what they are capable of. Our goal is to stick all five vaults and evaluate that at the end. Then we park those thoughts and move on to the next event. When we are able to stay focused on our own goals and stay almost oblivious to the other scores, that is when we are best. The focus is not on the scores, it is on the details.”
Saturday’s meet is Camper Reunion and Girl Scout Day. Kids Zone will be available for young Hawkeye fans prior to the meet.There will also be a postgame autograph session with the Hawkeyes.
An hour before every home meet this season is Hot Dog Happy Hour, which means fans can purchase hot dogs for only $1 (beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday). Prior to the meet, fans will have the opportunity to register to win a baseball or softball season ticket package. Fans can register to win at the east entrance.