March 30, 2016
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24 Hawkeyes to Watch
Editor’s note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Wednesday, July 29, highlighting one athlete from each of the 24 intercollegiate sports offered by the University of Iowa. More than 700 talented student-athletes are currently busy preparing for the 2015-16 athletics year at the UI. Hawkeyesports.com will introduce you to 24 Hawkeyes who, for one reason or another, are poised to play a prominent role in the intercollegiate athletics program at the UI in the coming year.
By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Alie Glover is relishing the opportunity to take a final walk down the tunnel onto the competition floor in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
She gets that chance when the 19th ranked University of Iowa women’s gymnastics team hosts the NCAA Regional Championships, welcoming No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 12 Nebraska, No. 13 Arkansas, No. 30 Kent State, and No. 35 Central Michigan on April 2 for a right to advance to the NCAA Championships in Fort Worth, Texas.
“It’s indescribable (to have this meet at Carver), I would not have it any other way,” said Glover, a senior from Destin, Florida. “To be at home, the first place I walked out for my first competition as a Hawkeye and to have it be my last, it’s an incredible opportunity, but it also drives me to have it not be my last.
“I am motivated for this team to have the opportunity to go to nationals. If it is my last, it is awesome and bittersweet at the same time, but we’re motivated and pushing for that reason. It’s at home, on our home turf, and it’s something we can defend and work for.”
Glover started in gymnastics at the age of 3 when her mother, Wendy, took her to a “Mommy and Me” class at a local gym.
“It is special to have had four years and this being the point that it leads to. We’ve had a great season and we’re feeling strong heading into a regional at home. We can’t ask for more. To be able to go out with my team and put it on the floor and have the opportunity to go through to nationals is a special thing.”
UI senior Alie Glover
“It kind of took off from there,” said Glover. “I never looked back.”
Like many young gymnasts, Glover had aspirations of being an Olympian. When she reached a point in middle school where she realized that wasn’t attainable, focusing on continuing to excel collegiately was the next best thing.
“I always knew I didn’t want to stop doing gymnastics,” she said.
Glover’s first correspondence with the University of Iowa came when she received a letter in the mail from UI head coach Larissa Libby. The two communicated by phone a few times before Glover decided to go on an unofficial visit to Iowa City.
“It’s a long way from home, but when I came here, saw the campus and met the team, I fell in love,” said Glover. “Even though it was so far away, it felt like a second home right off the bat. That’s why I decided this was the right place.”
Glover was Libby’s “first shot” in the state of Florida, and she became the first in a Florida-to-Iowa pipeline that also includes Mollie Drenth, Nikki Youd, Rose Piorkowski, and Maria Ortiz.
“The Florida market blew up,” said Libby. “If one goes, then it must not be too bad. Everybody realized they could survive the winter. She blazed the trail and it has been a slow and steady one-a-year pick-up since. Everyone has been awesome.”
Glover stepped into the lineup as a true freshman, earning Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors and being the only Hawkeye to compete in the all-around in all 12 meets. The following season, she rode a strong regular season to a bid as an individual in the NCAA Regionals.
As a junior, Glover broke through, leading the team on vault, and being named to the Big Ten All-Championship team. She helped the Hawkeyes to a season-high score of 196.500 at the Big Ten Championships to earn a fifth-place finish and qualify to NCAA Regionals.
“The Big Tens last year was a special experience for our team,” said Glover. “It all came together and clicked. We were out there, excited, and cheering. It was an energy that we never felt before. To have that click there and to be able to build on that this season is a special moment for us and me.”
During her senior season, Glover has emerged as a team leader. Although Libby doesn’t name team captains (she wants leaders to emerge on their own) Glover has been a steadying influence on the Hawkeyes.
“She leads without that hand-in-fist mentality,” said Libby. “She is the person that makes sure the right foot is forward, we’re dressed the right way and look the part, say the right things, and represent us the way we’ve molded the team to be represented.”
Iowa’s season journey from posting a 192.350 in its first competition in Cancun, Mexico, to tying a season-high with a 196.650 at the Big Five Meet in University Park, Pennsylvania, and tying for fifth at the Big Ten Championships has come with a systematic approach — one that Glover has mastered.
“Alie is nothing but consistent in everything she has done,” said Libby. “She is meticulous about things she does. That part of her has made a large impact in how the team goes about its things.
“What she does in practice is exactly what she does in competition. If she takes a breath before she does a beam routine, she does that same thing in practice and brings it over to competition. Everything she does in hand movements, she does every day in practice.
“That has been important for the team to see from the mental and physical side of gymnastics. What makes you successful is repetition; success breeds success and Alie does that. She rarely varies on what brings her success.”
Glover has won five event titles during her senior season — four on floor and one on balance beam — en route to earning second-team All-Big Ten honors. She leads the Hawkeyes on the floor with a score of 9.925 heading into the NCAA Regionals — her last go-round in Iowa City.
“It is special to have had four years and this being the point that it leads to,” said Glover. “We’ve had a great season and we’re feeling strong heading into a regional at home. We can’t ask for more. To be able to go out with my team and put it on the floor and have the opportunity to go through to nationals is a special thing.”