Just landed and checked in after a short 1-hour flight from NorCal. As I said in my earlier blog post, it’s crazy to think that the last time I was here was for the same meet, but 15 years ago! I’ll be up bright and early to judge the first session. This time around they have me assigned on floor throughout most of the weekend. I’m actually excited about this because I get to judge with a former Stanford gymnast, Craig Nesbitt. I’ve known him ever since I was little that I basically consider him to be my brother. It’s also kind of cool because he was the one that initially got me into judging!
Speaking of Stanford, the Stanford team will be competing tomorrow in the first session of NCAAs. For those of you who aren’t familiar with NCAAs, there are two sessions, each with six teams (total of 12 teams). The top three teams from each session will advance to Friday night’s team final to battle it out for the national title. Everyone send good thoughts to your favorite team at West Point (preferably to Stanford)!
This’ll be another busy week for me. Everything will be pretty much the same until Wednesday, but on Wednesday night I’ll be leaving to go down to San Diego. I’ll be there to judge and coach the boys at the Regional Championships. It’ll be four full days of gymnastics but it’ll be exciting nonetheless. Now that I think about it, I haven’t been down in San Diego since I competed in my first regionals when I was 8 years old! That’s a pretty long time considering I’m out of college and all. Looking back, I remember being super nervous and having a terrible meet. I think I put too much pressure on myself because my dad told me that he would buy me a video game if I won first place. Anyway, It’s funny to think that I’m going back there for the same competition, but this time as a judge and a coach.
As far as things in the gym, they’re definitely coming along. After getting the green light from the doctor last week, I’ve been gradually trying new things with my legs during practice. The other day I did a double-back off of the pbars. I won’t lie about it feeling a bit weird considering I haven’t done a dismount in over 8 months, but there wasn’t any pain. I’m hoping that my knee will start to feel more comfortable as time goes by.
Also as soon as I get my custom brace delievered, I should be able to start doing a little more. The other day, I went back to the hospital to get sized up for it. Overall, it was an interesting experience. The specialist basically created a cast around my leg to make a mold of it. Then that mold is going to get sent to the headquarters so that they can make a custom brace for me. Pretty neat!
Just got back from LA after a quick trip to receive an award from the Pac-10. The name of the award I received was called the Tom Hansen Conference Award, which is presented annually to two athletes (male/female) from each of the Pac-10 institute “based on the exhibition of the greatest combination of performance and achievement in scholarship, athletics and leadership.” (pac-10). While the trip was fun and exciting, the combo of having to leave early to get there and being stuck at the airport due to rain delay on the way back, made it a pretty hectic trip.
I thought that it was awesome that they held the presentation in conjunction with the Pac-1o basketball championships. The Pac-10 even comp’d our tickets to the games, but what was more exciting was that they had all of the medal winners walk out to the center of the court of the Staples Center and introduced us one by one. The next day, they held an awards luncheon that included a slick video presentation for all of us.
The Pac-10 also put us up at the brand-spanking new J.W. Marriot, which was literally right across the street from the Staples Center. What was great about the hotel was that it included a full-blown workout gym so I didn’t even have to miss my rehab while I was away for the trip.
However, the best part of the whole experience was not the hotel I stayed at or being invited to go see the basketball games. Instead, it was getting the opportunity to meet all the amazing student/athletes, and being able to hear about their life-stories and the paths they took to get to where they are now. After all, a bunch of these athletes have accomplished so much already. For example, the medal winners included an Olympic gold medalist, a Walter Byers scholarship recipient, and several NFL and NBA players. Being able to be around those guys helped me remember that regardless of what sport you play/compete in, in order to become great, there is never an easy way to the top. Overall, it was a great trip, and it got me fired up. I’m ready to get back to the daily grind and continue to work hard!
Wanted to thank the parents, the staff, and Coach Steve at Oroville Gymnastics for hosting me to do a training clinic for the boys yesterday! After a 3.5 hour drive north from where I usually train, I finally made it up to the facility.
And while I’m on this topic, I wanted to recognize the parents really quickly for all that they do to support their kids. During the drive up (and down back), I kept thinking to myself about how much work it must be to drive long distances to central locations for competitions during the season. After all, there’s a competition almost every weekend for 3 months straight, and for those who live far north or south, there aren’t that many “local” meets. Made me really think that there’s a very strong support system behind every gymnast! And, this isn’t only about the gymnasts at this particular gym, but every gymnast that’s out. That said, kids: remember to thank your parents!
Anyway, with State Championships coming up in a few weeks, Coach Steve asked me to do a clinic for the boys so that they could get some feedback for their routines. All of them worked really hard and I could tell that they were excited about having a new face in the gym. Funny, because I was the same exact way when I was younger! I’ll be seeing the boys again soon though when I come back up to Oroville to judge the State Championships. Good luck to the guys at the gym and the rest of the boys in NorCal who are training for States!
Today I went through a practice meet to basically simulate what the competition will be like in Japan next weekend. As with any practice meet, I was given some time to stretch and then I had about an hour to go to all the events and warm-up for my routines. I was also given a one-touch warm-up prior to each event.
Generally, one of the biggest challenge at a meet is getting the p-bars ready in the given time (we only have 30 seconds after the judges puts up the score of the gymnast before, which usually comes out to anywhere between 1.5 minutes to 2 minutes before you have to jump up on the pbars). Sometimes the whole prep process gets a little chaotic given the little time but the whole goal is to be quick and efficient like a pit crew in a car race. Fortunately everything went pretty smoothly today and I was able to hit a good pbar set.
The other five events went pretty smoothly as well. There are definitely some minor details that I need to work on but these are things that I can fix in the next couple of days before I leave for Japan.
Anyway, the preparation process is going well and I’m looking forward to a fun and exciting competition next week. It’ll be awesome to go head-to-head against the best in the world. Go USA!!!
So I got through another hard day in the gym and it definitely feels great to be done. Tomorrow is a very very very light day with stretching in the gym and getting treatment in the training room. Recently my shoulder has started bothering me again so I’m looking to get that worked on. This is definitely a tough time in the gym. All the numbers we’re knocking out and body aches go hand-in-hand. However it’s the guy that works the smartest that gets to the top. I guess it’s important to understand your body well enough to know when to back off or know when you can push a little further.
Anyway, hopefully the light day tomorrow as well as the work I’ll get done in the gym will help me recover a bit before another hard day on Friday. After that I’m actually supposed to get the entire weekend off because of 4th of July. Now that’s exciting stuff! Better need to start planning on what to do.
The other day, I went and picked up my letterman award for finishing up my senior year at Stanford. As freshmen we get a jacket, sophomores – clock, juniors – blanket, and seniors – a ring. The ring is gold and the design is pretty simple. All it has is an “S” (for Stanford), but I’ve gotta admit, this ring symbolizes many things. While I’m excited to get my NCAA Championship ring (they’ll be sending it to us in a couple of weeks!) I think this letterman ring is just as special. Looking at it makes me think of all the fun times as well as the tough workouts that I had to go through in college. It was an awesome experience to be able to train day in and day out with a group of guys that I now consider to be my “brothers.” This ring will also always remind me that the process, or the road that you take to get to a goal is more important than anything else. As my old coach, Vitaly, used to preach, “you have to learn to enjoy the process.”
As for training, everything is going pretty well. It’s my heavy training week so I’m knocking out a lot of numbers and trying to get through more routines. The good thing is that I will start tapering down next week in order to get ready for the meet in Japan in two weeks. The downside is that it’s scorching hot right now in California. I guess I shouldn’t be complaining though because it’s not as humid as it is in other parts of the US, however, it sure would be nice to have an A/C system in the gym. I guess most gyms in California don’t have an A/C system though because the hot season doesn’t last for all that long. Anyway, a few more tough trainings to get through this week but I’m definitely “enjoying the process!”
National team camp ended yesterday and now I’m back home in California. Overall the camp went well. Again, it was a great atmosphere because it was a joint national team camp which included both the senior team and some of the junior guys. It was great to see all the younger guys getting strong as it definitely showed the depth of the US National Team.
As posted a few days ago, Friday was an intra-squad day and we went through all six events. For me, most of my routines went well except for some mistakes on a couple of events. The intra-squad served as a good opportunity to see where I’m at and it definitely told me the places I need to work on as I get ready for the Japan Cup and the Visa Championships.
For the last day of camp, we met with a Sports Psychologist to talk about some of the mental aspect of our sport. It was an interesting talk and we learned how to use visualization effectively in order to prepare ourselves mentally for practice as well as competitions. And finally, to finish up the camp, we went to go the yoga studio again. Since there were more people than last time, the place seemed a lot hotter (we did the hot yoga a.k.a Bikram yoga). I definitely thought that I was going to pass out this time. I guess it wasn’t a good idea that I ate a whole slab of steak right before going there.
Anyway, now I’m back in California and ready to get back to training at my own gym. Camp was a great motivator and it should keep me going for the next couple of weeks until I leave for Japan!
So today was our first day of national team camp. Most of us spent the day doing basics and getting used to the equipment at the OTC. We basically treated today as preparation for tomorrow as we are having an intra-squad (practice meet) with some judges coming in. This will be a tune-up for myself and the four other guys who are competing in Japan in a few weeks (you can find the participant list for the meet here: Japan Cup Roster). Tomorrow will also be good practice for the guys who are competing at qualifiers as well as USA Championships in August. I know some of the guys are trying new tricks in their routines so tomorrow’s intra-squad should be interesting.
After workout, about half of us got together and went and watched the new Transformers movie. Truthfully, I didn’t think it lived up to the first one but I will admit that it was entertaining. Going to the movie was also good because it allowed us to get off the training center complex for a bit and just relax. Anyway, better hit the sack so I can rest up for tomorrow’s practice meet!
After a long day of traveling, I’m finally checked in at the Olympic Training Center (from San Jose, we went through Phoenix and then to Colorado Springs). While traveling was draining, the great thing about this time was that I got to come here with my Stanford teammate (as well as teammate on the US National Team), David Sender. Last time I was here I had to travel alone because Dave was at a competition in Moscow.
Anyway, we’re all pretty much settled. Earlier, we went to the gym to stretch a little and had some food down at the cafeteria. I may go and see some old friends later on as this was my home a few years ago but since camp is starting tomorrow, I may just stay in and relax. This camp will be fun, especially since some of the junior guys are joining us this week. We’ll get to see how everyone is doing.