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.

Difference between Collegiate and Olympic Gymnastics

So you have followed all of the collegiate gymnastics teams on their journeys to the NCAA Nationals…but did you ever wonder what sets Olympic gymnasts apart from college gymnasts?

The Team: College gymnastics is ALL about getting decked out in your team colors and representing your entire school. Your teammates become your best friends, and many of them end up rooming together throughout their college years. There’s nothing like having a roommate that also has to wake up at 5:30am for practice! When training for the Olympics, however, you are all on your own. Sure, the Olympics is technically a team sport, where four women will represent the USA. However, the journey to get to that position is all about flying solo. It is you and your coach getting you prepared for the world of the elite.

The Training: Since elite gymnasts train individually with their coaches, they got a lot more one on one time for corrections. Collegiate athletes unfortunately do not receive as much of this because the coaches have to focus on 20 girls, not just one at a time. Olympic-ready gymnasts train routine after routine every single day. College gymnasts may run their routines a few times, and move onto the next one. Almost all elite athletes who hope to make the US team compete in all four events for a greater chance of impressing the national coordinators. Collegiate gymnasts tend to specialize on certain events and not compete on others. There are only a few girls per team that are allowed to compete in the all around (or on all four events).

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Photo By: ABC News

The Time Commitment: College gymnasts typically have practice 20 hours a week. Elite gymnasts commit their entire lives to the sport. Most elite gymnasts are home schooled from a very early age to be able to spend the most amount of time they can at the gym. Typically, elites have practice early in the morning, take a break for school work, practice again in the afternoon….and get home just in time to take a shower and go to bed. In Romania, the elite gymnasts who are training for the Olympics stay bunked together in dorms. They wake up at the same time and complete the same amount of training and schoolwork together. Talk about team bonding!

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Photo By: NBC Olympics

Well there you have it, folks! Two completely different ways of competing, but two wonderful ways of competing. You should start thinking realistically about what kind of gymnastics future you strive for to make your preparation more focused on your ultimate dreams in this sport.