Senior Jaime Mabray joined BYU coach Brad Cattermole in representing the Cougars at the opening press conference on Wednesday. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
NCAA GYMNASTICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
QUOTES - OPENING PRESS CONFERENCE
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Quoting Alabama head coach Sarah Patterson
'Obviously we are excited to be here in the state of Alabama. Although we have made it 23 consecutive times, it never gets to be old. I am excited about it this year just like I was my first year. I can say from experience that the quality always seems to improve. There has never been any more quality here than this year. Legitimately, there are eight-to-nine teams who could win it. It is exciting and fun for athletes, coaches and fans alike.'
On Terin Humphreys...
'Terin is extremely excited about being here. She has spent a lot of time in the gym. When wewere at the SEC Championship and had a fall, I remember her telling me when she came up next that she felt more pressure at that moment than she did at the Olympics. I think that speaks volumes about collegiate gymnastics.'
On competing at Auburn University...
'We compete here regularly, but this looks so different from a dual meet. Obviously, we will have a lot of fans here but Georgia, LSU and Florida will also have respectable numbers. When you spend all the time, effort and energy putting this championship together, obviously you want to be involved. I was pulling for Auburn at the Regionals because I know they wanted to be here. I was pleased to see that they have four people competing.'
Quoting Alabama gymnast Ashley Miles
On competing at the NCAA Championships for the third time...
'We have made it 23 times, and I have been here for three of those times. It never gets old. The Regionals are like a basketball game and now this is the final few minutes. The quality of competition here is great.'
On savoring the memory...
'This is an awesome experience. I would just advise the other gymnasts to enjoy their teammates and coaches. Some people expect to be here. Just cherish the time and have fun.'
Quoting BYU head coach Brad Cattermole
'We are also thrilled to be here. This is our ninth time but we haven't been here in several years. Actually 2000 was the last time we made it. I think the first time we were ever at NCAA Championships it was in the state of Alabama. So it seems fitting to be back. The girls on the team were super excited about the trip. This is first time in a while that there are several phenomenally good teams that could win it all.'
On who could win it...
'Several could win it all. There are so many teams that can all do so well. If you get on a roll in this championship, you could win it. I don't know of any hands-on favorites.'
On competing in the south...
'Everybody is so friendly. The team has only been here for a little while but I already feel like I grew up in the South.'
Quoting BYU gymnast Jamie Mabray
On making it to this level...
'It is flattering to just be a part of this. We have worked so hard in the gym this year. We just have to go out and focus on what we have to do.'
Quoting Michigan head coach Beverly Plocki
'We are excited about being here. A lot of work goes into putting an NCAA Championship together and my hat goes off to Auburn. We have been here less than 24 hours, and it has been wonderful. The area is just beautiful. I agree with what (Alabama coach) Sarah (Patterson) said earlier that there are eight or nine teams who could win. Overall, this atmosphere is exciting for our girls.'
On competing in the south...
'We have competed against the SEC numerous times so this is not out of the ordinary for us. Our team has to rise the occasion. We just have to convince ourselves that all of that cheering and screaming is for you.'
On being consistent...
'We talked about that this year. We need to be in the zone for the competition. Every year, I can look at one meet and can tell that we were really in the zone. This season, we have been so consistent. For this championship, we need to get in the zone and stay focused.'
Quoting Michigan gymnast Elise Ray
On her final championship appearance...
'I tried to quiet my brain. All that keeps running through it is this is my last whatever, and I hate that. I am just trying to stay in the moment and enjoy it.
On returning for her senior season...
'I was not ready to retire and give up collegiate gymnastics. So I decided to return and have not regretted that decision one bit.'
Quoting Oklahoma head coach Steve Nunno
'This is the third NCAA appearance for me and second in a row. I can't fathom what it is like to be here 23 years in a row. This is our first consecutive appearance in school history, and our first time ever to Auburn University. At times, it can be a little intimidating for the powerhouse teams. Regardless, it will be an exciting time in every session. Also, the southern hospitality has been great.'
On who could win it...
'The thing that makes it difficult is the new judging system. I felt that the new judging has been very fair this season. There are only one or two teams who could afford one small mistake. The other others can't make any mistakes.'
On competing in the south...
'This is part of the experience for the student-athletes. We have never been here until this year, but that is the great thing about collegiate gymnastics -- you get to see a variety of places.'
Quoting Oklahoma gymnast Erin LaBarr
On returning for her senior season...
'Making it to this level certainly makes it worth everything. All of the hard work and dedication that all of the girls have put in pays off eventually.'
Quoting Florida Head Coach Rhonda Faehn
'I want to thank Auburn for hosting the NCAA Championships. The arena looks more amazing than I have ever seen it look. We are looking forward to getting the competition started. Our session is challenging and there are really strong teams competing, but we are up for the challenge. We have had great practices gearing up for the Championships and we are healthy and ready to go.'
Quoting Georgia Head Coach Suzannne Yoculan
'We love the podium that is up in the arena and I thank Auburn and the committee for getting it for this competition. We have been up and down all season long and I don't know what place we will come in, but I know that we won't finish 12th.'
On The University of Alabama...
'I don't think that Alabama has any more of a home advantage than we do. We are pretty close to Auburn and we will have a crowd here as well. I think that Alabama, being last on beam, will be more of a factor for them.'
Quoting Georgia Gymnast Michelle Emmons
'We had a disappointment at Regionals and we needed to come back together as a team. Everyone has had a bad night before. Our practices have been great building up to this week and we are working hard.'
Quoting Iowa State Head Coach K.J. Kindler
'We are very excited to be here. This is my first time to be here as a coach and this is the school's second time to be here as a team. This is the healthiest that our team has been all season. I am proud to have made it this far and we are going to put our best foot on the floor.'
Quoting Iowa State Gymnast Erin Dethloff
'This is my second time at the Championships as an individual. I bring what experience I have as an individual and share it with my teammates.'
Quoting UCLA Head Coach Valorie Kondos Field
'I thank Auburn for being able to put up the podium for this event. Having it here just makes this time extra special for the girls. It is great to be in the South. The southern hospitality is already out in full force. We expected to be here, but we don't take that for granted. Tomorrow's opening session is more exciting for me than it has ever been before.'
On added pressure...
'I don't think that there is any added pressure on us for being the defending champions. I take each year as something new and rebuild it up from the beginning. This would have been a far different team this year if Kristen decided not to come back for a fifth year.'
On early loss to Utah...
'This has been a different year for us than in years past. Last year we knew that we could win no matter what mistakes were being made, but it is not like that this season. We had to learn that you have to earn whatever you get. The girls were too excited to start the season and they just took it for granted.'
Quoting UCLA Gymnast Kristen Maloney
'I sat out two years for a shin problem and I know that I wanted to come back when I could. There was no doubt in my mind about having a fifth year. I have a lot of passion for this sport and it is a part of me.'
Quoting LSU Head Coach D.D. Breaux
'We are excited and thrilled to be here. We commend Auburn on their job of hosting this event. It's nice to have the national championships back in the deep south. Everything here is beautiful from the stage to the platform to the flowers. I am very pleased with the way our season has gone and I feel as though we have had a fabulous year. We have done a good job of building our confidence levels throughout the season to where we feel at a championship level of competing. We have been focused throughout the year and we have had great team efforts from meet to meet.'
'I feel as though we have more depth and maturity than we have ever had during my time at LSU. This is a very good team from top-to-bottom in our lineup, and we have had to play very well every step of the way because we have faced stiff competition every meet. I think this is the best team I've ever had at LSU.'
Quoting LSU Gymnast April Burkholder
'I feel like this is the closest we've ever been to being able to take it home. We feel the same pressure that we have felt all year, and we have had great confidence this season as a team. I think if we go in and hit all of our sets, we'll let the scores speak for themselves at the end of the meet.'
On motivation from failing to qualify for Super Six last season...
'I feel as though we are a little more experienced this year. Those freshmen and sophomores last season got great experience, which has helped us as a team this year as we have tried to get back to here to NCAA Championships. We have worked hard in the gym all year, and I think not making Super Six helped motivate us to work harder.'
Quoting Nebraska Head Coach Dan Kendig
'Auburn has done a great job with hosting this event. Ever since we got off the plane yesterday in Atlanta, we have been treated great with someone picking us up at the airport and showing us where to go in town. It has been a great experience being here. We started slow this year, and I think we have been building our confidence since the third meet of the season at Florida. We have gotten to where we are competing consistently, and it's always great to be able to get to this event. The competition at this event is great from top-to-bottom, and we are thrilled about being here.'
Quoting Nebraska Gymnast Jamie Saas
'After Regionals, we came together as a team and decided that it was going to take a team effort to do well here at NCAAs. We have been brought closer together as a team, and we're looking to go out and do the same things we've done all year long.'
Quoting Penn State Head Coach Steve Sheppard
'I just want to thank Auburn for the great job they've done hosting this event. I can imagine that the workload has been tremendous for the sports staff here at Auburn University, and I commend the job they have done in getting this place ready to go. We are happy to be here as a team, and I felt like we had a good year. We have been very united from the beginning, and we have had a focused team effort from the get-go. This (making NCAA Championships) was a goal we set as a team at the beginning of the season, and we just have to go out and hit our routines and do what we've been doing all season.'
On making NCAA Championships following a three-year drought...
'It's a great feeling to be back. We've had a bit of a drought and haven't been able to make it back, but we are definitely excited to be at this event. We have had some great athletes in years past, but we just haven't had good performances at Regionals. We didn't have a great showing at Regionals this year, but we got the job done. Hopefully, we got the monkey off our back.'
Quoting Utah Head Coach Greg Marsden
'As others before me have said, there are a number of teams here with a chance to win it all. It all depends on who comes in and hits their routines and gets on a roll. If you do the little things well, I think you're going to have a chance to be fine in this meet. There is enough talent placed in enough different teams that the tenths of a point will start to add up. I don't think that any team will run away with this competition.'
On his team's chances...
'For the first time we have ever been at NCAAs, I don't feel as though we have to hope for other teams to make mistakes to give ourselves a chance. If we hit our routines, I think we can hang with anyone, which is a testament to the athletes we have. We can hold our own against everyone here.'
Utah Gymnast Annabeth Eberle
'We go into every meet with the same mindset of just hitting our routines. We are focused on going in and doing everything that we've done all season long and just hitting those routines. We know that we can hang with anyone else as long as we go out and do what we are capable of.