The First Year Experience: Ally Wesoly

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” ~Seneca

Although the first year on a college gymnastics team can be nerve-wracking, gymnasts like Towson’s own Ally Wesoly, prove that a fresh beginning may be just the change you need.

“This year was super challenging in the sense that I had to adapt to a new team, a new gym, new coaches, and basically a new life,” Wesoly said in an email interview. “It has opened up my eyes on how rewarding it can be to be a student athlete and have the opportunities that we have. It’s been exciting, memorable, and exhausting but I think most of all this was a huge learning year for me.”

Ally was surprised at how nervous she was to compete in her first collegiate meet. Competing is her favorite part about gymnastics, and she said she was excited to get back on the floor again. “My adrenaline was so high just because college gymnastics is so different than club (gymnastics),” Wesoly said.

The Towson University Gymnastics program has exceeded Ally’s expectations. She found herself striving to get better as the year went on, which was not a feeling she was used to having on her club team. Wesoly considers her new coaches “incredible” and their support pushes Ally to push towards her fullest potential. Wesoly describes it as “a ripple effect of support in the gym.”

When asked about the hardest part of competing at away meets, Wesoly responded: “competing at someone else’s home competition because we don’t have the huge crowd we normally would behind us so the energy is not as high, which then brings on the challenge of our team picking up and maintaining our own energy.”

When the team goes to a bigger, more popular school, Ally’s coaches tell them to ‘stay in your bubble. This visual allows the gymnasts to keep their focus and energy on themselves.

For any high school gymnast out there interested in collegiate gymnastics, Ally would tell you to, “Do it. Just do it. You get incredible opportunities to travel around the country with a group of girls that becomes your family. You make memories that will stay with you for forever and it is a great way to represent your school.”

Ally has learned so much about herself, as well as enhanced her physical and mental abilities. She considers her first year experience hard but rewarding.  She can’t wait for all that is in store for her future years as a Towson tiger.

Which NCAA Division Fits Your Skill Set?

You have an interest in competing in collegiate gymnastics, but how do you know which school is the best for you? This primarily depends on your skill level. The higher the skill set, the more likely you are to be recruited for a Division One school, where as the lower the skill set, the more likely you are to be recruited for a Division Three school. Let’s break it down.

ursinDivision Three: Although D3 is considered competitive, this division strives to have successful athletes who involve themselves in academics and other clubs around campus. Gymnasts competing at this level do not have to dedicate their entire lives to the sport, but aim to be well-rounded. Not many difficult skills are thrown during gymnastics routines, including uneven bar release moves, combination sets on the balance beam, or more than 2 tumbling runs on the floor exercise. You will see significantly less difficulty, twists, and flips in colleges like Ursinus. A team like this will typically score a 189 in the NCAA rankings.

scsuDivision Two: D2 is considered the middle range: athletes are more dedicated to practice times and preparations for meets than D3 athletes typically are. More money goes into the funding for the gymnastics team, and more practice hours are allotted in the gym. Slightly more difficult skills can be viewed from a college like Southern Connecticut State University. Landings are cleaner, more risk is taken, and there is less help from coaches on the floor during the competitions as far as spotting is concerned. 192 is the average score for a D2 team to receive.

uclaDivision One: The most competitive and time consuming D1 presents challenges to athletes across the nation. While it is extremely rewarding to receive the highest budget from school athletic programs and higher chances of generous scholarships, D1 athletes pour their hearts and souls into the sport. The highest level of difficulty is performed by teams like UCLA, with crisp, stuck landings, maximum consistency, and D/E skill elements (the most advance). Teams can bring scores around the 197 range in the rankings.

It should not be assumed that a D3 athlete is worse than a D1 athlete. Although their level of difficulty might not be as high, perhaps that D3 athlete did not want to dedicate 25+ hours a week to gymnastics during their college years. They could have picked up an injury along the way that prohibits them from throwing D1 skills. There are advantages and disadvantages to competing at each division level, but picking the right one for what you are capable of physically and mentally will be the most important decision you will have to make when recruiting for college gymnastics.