June’s feature story comes from one of UGA’s most accomplished gymnast, Kylee Botterman (Kolarik). The 2011 NCAA All-Around Champion shared her thoughts on the sport and how gymnasts at each level should approach it. Her gymnastics have taken her around the world and back, provided her with a college degree, made countless friends and memories to last a lifetime. We appreciate her insight and hope you will as well!
My experience in gymnastics and at UGA have provided me with great memories, people to thank and life lessons that helped me to excel at the University of Michigan and as an adult. I wanted to speak to all gymnasts, because every step of the journey is important to your development.
If you’re just starting out, this sport is hard to not jump in feet first and full force. The gym is such a positive place to be. So much cheering, motivating and high fives being thrown around. Experience the atmosphere of the gym and watch the relationships that are formed so quickly and see the excitement of conquering a new skill. It is such a thrill. Especially when you get to share it will all of your closest friends and that is only the beginning. There is so much more to get excited about! When I was younger, I loved watching the older girls and couldn’t wait until I could be like them. Keep practicing hard and have a positive attitude and you will fall in love with UGA.
If you are just starting to take gymnastics seriously I just want to say, have fun! Leave the drama outside of the gym and let yourself enjoy your time there. It is hard to focus on improving when your mind is elsewhere. You need patience, because your flip flop on the high beam isn’t going to happen overnight. I always tried to keep an open communication with the coaches and felt they treated me like an adult because I respected them. It is understandable that everyone has different personalities, but you will not get anything out of your coaches or practices if they don’t know what is going on in your head. Take more turns, repetition is key. Don’t be lazy and don’t let your teammates be lazy. Getting reprimanded doesn’t mean your coach doesn’t like you, it means they want to push you to be the best athlete you can be and get the most out of you as a gymnast! Every one has bad days in the gym, but those are the ones you learn from the most. I tried to take something away from every practice whether it was a positive or negative, and it helped me to learn and grow as a gymnast.
Reality check! Gymnastics is hard. It is a time commitment and takes dedication. It means missing Friday night football games and maybe even senior prom. But you have to set goals and know what you are striving towards. Because in the end, it is all worth it! Whether your goal is to improve your all around score every meet, to make it to nationals, or to achieve a scholarship… you need to graduate with satisfaction and fulfillment with what you’ve accomplished. Sure I missed prom, but I was competing for Region Five at nationals having the time of my life! I didn’t get to take my drivers test on my 16th birthday because I was in California showing what I had been working so hard for, which lead to a scholarship. Be a leader in the gym, work your butt off, and good things will follow!
I loved my time at UGA and the lifelong friendships I formed. I loved dancing on Saturday mornings for warmup, I loved the challenge of trying to improve even through the rips and soreness, and I love where it lead me as a University of Michigan athlete and an individual. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
I hope everyone has a safe and exciting Summer break! If you have any questions or just want to chat I am always available at firstname.lastname@example.org and hope to see you around the gym!
– Kylee Botterman Kolarik