24 Hawkeyes to Watch 2017-18 | Hawk Talk Monthly — November
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa women’s gymnastics team had a record-breaking 2017 season that concluded with senior Mollie Drenth becoming the Big Ten balance beam champion and UI head coach Larissa Libby earning Big Ten Coach of the Year.
The GymHawks lost multiple key performers from the 2017 roster, including Drenth, Angel Metcalf, Lexi Mura, Ashleigh Edlin, and Savannah Borman, many of whom appeared in multiple starting rotations. But the losses are more than just their performances in the Black and Gold.
“We certainly lost some amazing young ladies last year, not only for their gymnastics but for the roles they played within our team,” said Libby. “Sometimes those areas can be harder to replace than the actual gymnastics.”
Libby will always remember the 2017 season, but she doesn’t want to dwell on it. She is completely focused on the upcoming season.
“When you have a truly successful season, the question is always how will you back it up,” said Libby. “The reality is I try not to think about it. We use the season’s success as motivation, but other than that, that was last season and this is now.”
Although they will not focus on last year, the momentum gained from that season is huge. It helped show the nation what Iowa gymnastics is capable of doing.
“More than anything, last year’s success improved the overall mentality of not just our team but, those who follow us,” said Libby. “I think it changed the belief of what we are capable of and how we stack up against higher ranked teams. I feel like our success helped establish the base for where we begin with the team this year, but we are trying not to look back.”
There is no question this season’s team will be different. Although the GymHawks lost several key members of the starting rotation, they added some new talent. Libby is excited about what the new mix of Hawkeyes bring to the lineup, but she also knows the newcomers have a lot of learning to do.
“While I would love to have all of our newcomers contribute right away to our lineups, the freshman transition process is difficult and not to be taken lightly,” said Libby. “First and foremost, before even thinking about their place in the lineups, it is my hope that they figure out how to be great students, superb teammates, and that they identify and understand their role within the culture of our team. They can’t continue the traditions and athletic success of the team if they don’t first understand how it became, how to develop it, and then how to maintain it. Only then will they be able to help the team.”
Overall, Libby looks forward to the upcoming season and the memories that will be made.
“I love traveling with this team,” said Libby. “It’s my favorite time of year. It’s when the greatest memories are made, the best jokes and most laughter are had, and it’s when I learn the most about the individuals on our team.”
The University of Iowa women’s gymnastics program previews the 2018 season with the Black and Gold Intrasquad and a season ticket holder exclusive event Saturday, Dec. 2 at 10 a.m. (CT) at the UI Field House. Admission to the intrasquad is free.