By Shannon McNamara for WVUsports.com
December 19, 2011 05:56 PM
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Throughout the 2012 preseason, the West Virginia University gymnastics team and staff will periodically check in with Mountaineer fans, providing updates on the progress made in Cary Gym and the weight room. The team also will share stories from its multiple team-bonding trips and activities.
|Assistant coach Bridget Boyd
Tumblers’ Tales is now featuring the Mountaineer newcomers, with the 15th entry centering on first-year assistant coach Bridget Boyd. An Elberton, Ga., native, Boyd joins WVU after 12 years of club coaching experience and oversees the balance beam lineup.
Most recently a coach at Oconee Gymnastics Center in Watkinsville, Ga., Boyd also coached at Classic City Gymnastics Academy and Georgia Elite. She also coached at the last five WVU Gymnastics Camps and has experience coaching all four events.
A 13-year competitive gymnast, Boyd competed at Classic City Gymnastics Academy and was a level 9 eastern national championships qualifier. MSNsportsNet.com: How would you assess your first six months with the WVU gymnastics team?
It’s gone really well. The first few months were spent getting familiar with the student-athletes and allowing them time to adjust to me and my coaching style. Now, I think we’re all settled into a routine, and we can joke around a little more. You previously coached at the WVU Gymnastics Camp. Do you think the familiarity you built with the returning Mountaineers during those camp sessions helped with this transition?
Yes, a lot. I think the returning girls knew who I was and what I’m about, and they respected my coaching. They had seen me coach before, and they are a little familiar with my coaching style I would bring to beam. I think working with them at camp helped a lot.
It took me awhile to finally grasp that I was at WVU for good and not just visiting for camp, and I think it took the team a few days to adjust to that, too. They figured it out, and it’s all smooth now. With this being your first season coaching at the collegiate level, have you been able to bond with the newcomers as they, too, transition away from club gymnastics?
I think a little bit. They are used to the types of assignments I assign them – they’re familiar with that style because they aren’t so far removed from club gymnastics. The first intra squad was fun for all of us – we kept making jokes about it being our first meet.
It’s funny – the upperclassmen don’t know what I’m talking about! It’s been so long since they were in club gym; they were the ones that I had to make the biggest adjustment to my coaching style for. What about your coaching style has been an adjustment for the upperclassmen?
I like to keep the gym fun. I do games, but I put pressure on the girls with each activity. I’ve been doing this since the first day I arrived at WVU. I think because of this, we’re competing stronger and harder sooner than expected.
I like change, too. Each day, I’ll come in to Cary Gym and write the assignment on the board, and the team honestly doesn’t know what to expect until practice starts. (Senior) Nicole Roach actually joked with me last week, saying how amazed she was that her assignment hasn’t ever been the same. What kind of games do you throw at the team?
I like to do a lot of consecutive skills. I’ll make them do a skill or a full routine two or three times, back-to-back.
As an example, one day Nicole had to do her mount and jump down, then repeat that a few times.
I think all of the change keeps them on their toes and throws the unexpected at them. They don’t know what’s going to happen when they’re under pressure in a meet, so why get comfortable now? They have to accomplish things more than once – that helps them with their confidence and helps them become more consistent.
Also, it keeps the gym fun. We aren’t stuck in a cycle, and the girls have something to strive for each practice. The beam lineup hit seven of its eight routines at the Pitt scrimmage – were you happy with that result?
I was very happy! I think (freshman) Beth (Deal) will be fine. We need to get her out under pressure a little bit more. I like the fact that she was very shocked that she fell off the beam. I think that’s a big plus – she completely expected to hit. I looked at her face when she came off, and I could tell she didn’t know where it came from.
I think they’re all starting to feel a little more confident in themselves. The great thing is there are five more girls behind those eight that competed that are pushing for a lineup spot, and they are just as consistent. Why is there so much depth at beam this year and how is that beneficial to the team’s success?
Everyone competes beam in club gymnastics, and I think once you get your skills, they’re pretty much set.
It’s absolutely beneficial to have so many girls pushing for a lineup spot. I think that will help change the lineup throughout the season. I’m sure we’ll have a few consistent girls that will retain their spots each week, but I think it’s good to give everyone a chance and see what each girl can do. I honestly believe that some of the girls that didn’t even compete at the Pitt scrimmage could be our high scorers in March. We won’t know that unless we give them a shot. Are you excited for your first official WVU meet on January 8 at the Coliseum?
I’ve always been more nervous as a coach than I was when I competed gymnastics. This year will be different because I won’t be overseeing all four events like I did during club meets; I don’t have to worry as much about the other three events, but my event has to do well.
This team is fun to watch and be on the floor with. I think the energy and excitement is starting to show, and everyone is getting ready for the season. The freshmen are especially excited. I’m looking forward to being out there with the team. What does being a Mountaineer mean to you?
There’s a sense of pride, especially in the school. I had been around the campus before I began coaching here, but you don’t see the support that’s behind all 17 teams unless you’re a part of it. Maybe it’s just because of where I came from, where there were a lot more teams to support, but here in Morgantown it’s all about WVU, and that’s great.Have you adjusted to the West Virginia winter yet?
No! The first snow came before Halloween, and that’s just crazy. I had to call my mom and tell her. I thought snow wasn’t supposed to come before Christmas, much less Halloween!
I’m preparing myself now. When it snows, (sophomore) Makenzie Bristol
and I will text and remind each other to stay inside and not to drive. We southern girls need to stick together!
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