Sunday, January 16, 2011
A Dreary Start to the NCAA Season
With a majority of the teams getting off to a particularly slow start this season, it is a dreary time for gymnastics fans. It has been a sleepy time in gymnastics since 2009. Not only did Suzanne Yoculan retire, but a generation of competitive elite gymnasts had all but retired. Last year, the last few remaining members of the ultra-competitive 2001-2004 quadrennium expensed their eligibility. That group was one of the deepest in USA Gymnastics history. The following crop was never as deep, and the resulting generation is NCAA is noticeably weaker.
The campy theatre of NCAA has dimmed considerably. At yesterday's UGA-Utah meet, both teams kept their backs to one another and the energy in the arena was reflective of the labored gymnastics being performed. It wasn't that long ago that Nicole Ford and Ashley Postell came into Athens ready to trashy talk and get into battle with Kelsey Ericksen, Courtney Kupets and Katie Heenan. Queenie was even known to get into it with Coach Yoculan on occasion.
The entire notice of the 'Bruin Bubble' screams Alyssa Beckerman ADD to me. NCAA gymnastics is all about competition and a fight to the death. Jeana Rice, Ashley Miles, Cory Fritzinger and Marline Stephens fed off of one another and welcomed to boos they received as they marched into their rival's arena. These girls were not shrinking violets, nor did anyone accuse them of being so. How would Christa Tanella respond to boos?
When Suzanne Yoculan, Greg Marsden and Sarah Patterson got into it, there was a great deal on intrigue in the media and it made it much more enthralling for the thousands of fans that would sellout the arenas. Sharp-tongued Val Kondos has even been known to put away her Woodenisms to get a little mouthy when visiting the peach state.
The University of Florida looks ready to dominate this season. They may have a scuffle with Alabama once the tide gets its shit together, but they remain far and away the best team. Stanford may challenge, but they lack the brute force at this time. Wouldn't it be refreshing if Marissa King slyly said that the team fully plans on kicking each and every team's ass during the course of the regular season? They don't just hope to win, they plan on embarrassing each and every team at home?
Overly-good sportsman, politically correct answers and fake smiles are wonderful for beauty pageants, but they have no place in elevating a dying sport like collegiate gymnastics. When is the last time you got really jazzed to see a group of sweet, socially-behind girls act like home schoolers who just hoped to do their best and see what happened?
And goodness, can't the girls diet over the holidays when they know the season is just around the corner? Tourischeva knows we wouldn't see so many injuries.