***Warning (or apology?) - This is the first of what I fear will be many gymnastics-related blogs between now and April 17th.***
***And I'm not sure it will even be coherent. Gymnastics doesn't lend itself well to a stream-of-consciousness approach***
***Full disclosure here***
***Not at all sure what's up with all the asterisks***
Since I began this topic, I had to go finish cooking dinner, and I think I have recognized what the problem is. It's not really what kind of fan I'm becoming, it's where I'm getting my information.
I am down in the dumps about our upcoming season in collegiate gymnastics. AND THE SEASON HASN'T EVEN STARTED YET. What's up with THAT?
I'm the one in our family who, while watching a football game, fervently believes that our team can win, even if we are down 49-0 with two minutes to go in the game. I don't get down in the dumps easily.
I have become concerned that I'm turning into a fair-weather fan. Our gymnastics team has won 10 national championships, 5 of them in a row (unprecedented in women's college gymnastics), from 2005-2009. Then last year we didn't even qualify for the national championships for the first time in 27 years. Couldn't defend our title because we couldn't even go.
We've graduated four super-superstar gymnasts in the past two years, and we've graduated some pretty good ones in addition to those. Recruiting hasn't been what it used to be, and even the top recruits we DID land haven't lived up to expectations.
This year's freshman class can't touch those at other schools, and then last week we lost the best of our freshmen, a powerhouse who was supposed to contribute on all four events. She ruptured her Achilles during practice, and she's out for the season. If there is a positive, it's that it happened before competition has begun, and she can redshirt this season, maintaining four years of eligibility. She had surgery yesterday, so she couldn't even be at the Meet the Team event.
We only have two seniors. And they're both in great shape, with awesome gymnastics. That's a relief.
Our top two juniors are both injured, both of them vital to the bars and vault line-ups. One of them got a near-perfect 9.975 on both bars AND vault last year (bars twice). The third junior has really come along this year, after only performing two vaults last year. On one of those she landed on her rear-end. She wasn't put back in the line-up again after that. Apparently she has made great strides (or we're running out of healthy folks), because last night we saw her practice on both floor and vault. We didn't get to see bars or beam practice, so I don't know where we stand on those apparatuses. Apparati. Whatever.
What we did get to see last night looked pretty good. I don't have that good an eye, especially on vaults, and I don't think I can judge objectively. I have a pretty hard time not taking a deduction when one of our gymnasts falls flat on her face. Maybe it's a good thing I gave up on becoming a gymnastics judge.
I have pinpointed the source of my negativity, though. I have been following a message board devoted to college gymnastics, along with one blog (that I'm NOT going to link to here because I don't want him to get any more hits), that are scathing in their criticism. Some of it is unbiased judgment, as far as I can tell, and some of it I can tell is of the "nah-nah-na-boo-boo" variety, the writers taking great pleasure in how far the mighty have fallen. A lot of it is based on the snippets of video that our coach has posted, and I have to admit that the snippets are a lot of "fluff" and not a whole lot of gymnastics. Other schools post entire intrasquad videos with complete routines for every gymnast.
Part of me is hoping that our coach hasn't posted videos because he doesn't want the other schools to see what their competition is. He's holding his cards close to the vest (is that a mixed metaphor, or is it correct?) and he's going to use the negativism to inspire his girls. There is a little voice in my head, though, that wonders, along with some of the most vocal nay-sayers online, if he isn't showing any good gymnastics because ....... there AREN'T any good gymnastics to show. I don't like that little voice. It's making me angry at myself for harboring those negative thoughts.
Is it reading the negative posts and comments that's making me down in the dumps about my team? Does that mean I only like my team when they're doing well? I don't think so, but I'm wondering if I just need to stop reading those things altogether. Easier said than done.... they're like CRACK (or what I guess crack must be like, since I have no personal knowledge).
I realize dynasties fall, records are broken, streaks eventually die. Perhaps this is just the second year in what will become an extended period of rebuilding. Perhaps it's just someone else's turn to be at the top. Rest assured, though, that I'm going to continue to pull for my team even if we lose every single meet this season. But damn I hope that doesn't happen.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled, non-gymnastics obsessed life.