Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dear Gym Dogs........

Dear Gym Dogs:

It’s the day of your Sneak Peek, our first (but probably unrealistic) glimpse of what the 2011 gymnastics season will look like. As a result of some poor planning, I find myself in Jamaica on this date and unable to attend the Sneak Peek. I apologize for the error, but I’m sure you understand.

As we (meaning YOU the team and ME, possibly your most devoted [obsessed?] fan) embark on the new season, I would like to offer a few pointers and suggestions. Feel free to ignore them, but they are heartfelt. And don’t worry - they are NOWHERE NEAR as scathing as the remarks offered up by Aunt Joyce on his blog. He is ruthless in his criticism. Yet as devoted (obsessed?) a fan as I am, I have never been able to argue realistically with anything he has said. I probably wouldn’t SAY them, but I can’t argue with them. He’s brutally honest. Emphasis on brutal.

#1 - Let’s reconsider the introductory video. When you unveiled this one 

at last year’s first home meet, I shuddered. I felt the eyes of Karma bearing down on all of us in Stegeman Coliseum. Her eyes were little slits, and I smelled trouble from the beginning. If you come out and proclaim yourselves “unstoppable,” one of two things is bound to happen. You’re going to A) kick some serious gymnastic arse and PROVE yourselves unstoppable; or B) you’re going to invite other teams to kick THEMSELVES into a higher gear and prove you aren’t. Unstoppable, that is. Remember which one happened last year? The five-time defending NCAA champions did not win. a. single. meet. on. the. road. And for the first time in oh about 27 years, you watched the NCAA championships from the spectator seats, just like I did. Yeah, because I ordered national championship tickets along with my season tickets. Because we’ve been just that sure for years and years that you would be there. I guess I learned my lesson about doing THAT. I guess you did too, since the option to purchase national championship tickets was not on this year’s season ticket application. Back to the introductory video. It wasn’t just the choice of song. I even downloaded it onto my iPhone, and I like to listen to it when I’m riding my bike. I would also like to think I AM unstoppable. In the video, though, your facial expressions and your body language made you look like..... I hate to say it, but I must..... You looked kinda like thugs. You even appeared to be flashing gang signs. Waving your national championship rings at the camera. Reminded me of those old commercials when Robert Conrad would dare viewers to knock the battery off his shoulder. Yes, I realize you are all too young to have any idea what I’m talking about.

#2 - Maybe it’s just me, but the floor music last year was ….. underwhelming. Some of it grew on me by the end of the season, but I remember thinking at the beginning, “Blah.” I realize you can’t have something like Tiffany Tolnay’s “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” or “Bad to the Bone” EVERY year, but come on! At least have something that gets the crowd involved. No need to go overboard, though. That shotgun blast that comes at the beginning of EVERY SINGLE floor routine of West Virginia, and the wolf howl that comes before EVERY SINGLE floor routine of N.C. State, those won’t be necessary. Not that either of those would be appropriate for UGA, but I’m just sayin’.

#3 - Let’s talk beam music. I realize it’s the only time you get to choose music that has lyrics, and you want beam music that reveals something about you. It was incredibly sweet two years ago when Paige Burns used Jimmy Buffett’s “Little Miss Magic” because that is the song she and her dad decided they would dance to when she gets married. It is cool that Hilary Mauro used “She Comes from Boston” and Noel Couch used “Jersey Girl” to represent their hometowns. And I think when Kat Ding chose “I Run to You,” she chose the song for its message about avoiding hate and prejudice and how wonderful it is to have someone else to turn to in times of conflict and uncertainty. It’s probably just a coincidence that five out of the eight times she performed on beam last year, when she got to the word “disaster” in the chorus of that song, she fell off the beam. Can we say “self-fulfilling prophecy”? Let’s not take any chances that it was NOT coincidence, shall we? Let’s find some beam music with words like “soar” and “fly” and “leap” and “punch front” and “double back in the pike position” and “gainer off the side with a full twist.” Okay, perhaps those last ones might be asking for a bit much. Maybe.

As I write this (admittedly NOT from Jamaica, but posted in advance), the videos I’ve seen of intrasquads and practice look amazing. Some of you returned this fall in much, much, much better shape than last year (**ahem, I’m looking at YOU, Cassidy, and you look AMAZING**), and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the injuries that hounded some of you last year are completely healed. (Why was Kat even warming up on beam last April at regionals in the first place? It wasn’t like she was going to compete on it.....) Except for Calamity-You-Know-Who, who will ALWAYS be injured. I know practically nothing about the freshmen except that one is a local girl who won’t even join the team until January because she’s still in high school, but I do know they are going to have to PRODUCE. You lost some superstars last year (and the year before), but there are always new superstars to be produced.

So I’ll see you all at the “Meet the Team” event in 24 days, and for the first home meet in 7 weeks. I’ll be watching online when you have your first meet of the season in Denver. Because I’m a devoted (obsessed?) fan that way.

And I’ll see you at the NCAA Championships in Cleveland in April.

Go Gym Dogs!

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