Right Where She Belongs

  • By Shannon McNamara
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  • December 10, 2010 09:02 AM
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MORGANTOWN, W. Va. - Some people were just born to be Mountaineers. Case in point - sophomore Kaylyn Millick. The West Virginia University gymnast had her go at another school, but there was no denying the strong pull she felt toward WVU and the program coach Linda Burdette-Good has built over the past 37 years.

After a successful 2010 rookie campaign at Eastern Michigan, Millick, a Washington, Pa., native, packed her bags and moved to Morgantown, and she has never felt more at home.

“I’ve always wanted to come to WVU since I was young,” the nursing major said. “My dad (Howie) went here, as did my uncles and my grandpa. We’re a WVU family.

“Transferring here was a big risk, but it worked out perfectly. The team has been really welcoming, as have the coaches, so I feel like I’ve gotten lucky.”

Millick, along with five freshmen, will make their Mountaineer debuts Friday in the team’s annual Gold-Blue intrasquad meet, at the WVU Coliseum, at 7:30 p.m. While the rookies may be saddled with pre-meet jitters, Millick is not quite as nervous, thanks in large part to the success she tasted as an Eagle last year.

Despite just being a freshman, Millick emerged as the top all-arounder at EMU and garnered nominations for the Mid American Conference (MAC) Gymnast and Freshman of the Year awards. Additionally, ranked No. 21 in the region with a 38.76 RQS, she earned an individual all-around qualification to the 2010 NCAA Central Regional Championships and finished the year ranked sixth (9.765 RQS) and seventh (38.76 RQS) in the MAC on the beam and the all-around, respectively.

“It was really exciting to individually qualify for the regional championships as a freshman,” Millick said. “It was definitely a learning experience. I was competing against the best, so I was really nervous. Competing without a team was hard, but I was able to watch the other athletes and learn from them. Now, I know what the college judges are looking for, and I can concentrate on competing better.”

Millick has made a habit of learning from other gymnasts, as she used to track former Mountaineer Alyssa DeSantis’ career at WVU. DeSantis, an all-East Atlantic Gymnastics League gymnast from 2003-06, was a few years ahead of Millick at Washington’s Gym Dandy’s, and the latter says the former has had a huge impact on both her gymnastics career and her life.

“I used to come to the Coliseum all of the time and watch her; because of her, I always dreamed of competing at WVU,” Millick explained. “She’s made me a completely different person. She was like my big sister. Watching her compete here made me want to be just like her.

“She worked so hard and competed so well. Alyssa always made me want to work that much harder. She still helps me so much, and I’m thankful we’re friends.”

After the last four months in Morgantown, Millick says she’s starting to feel like she’s finally a Mountaineer.

“It was nice to go to every single football game this year with my teammates,” she said of the squad’s weekly tradition. “I just love sports, and the fun thing about competing for WVU is there are also other good teams on campus. This is the college experience I was hoping for.”

Her experience is set to get even better, as she will don the Old Glue and Blue uniform for the first time at the team’s intrasquad.

“I’m so excited and nervous, especially because we’ll be competing in the Coliseum and my whole family will be here,” she exclaimed.

While she intends to push for an all-around spot this season, Millick understands that this Mountaineer team is exceptionally strong and deep.

“I know all-around is tough, mentally and physically, but I’m going to try for it,” she said. “I want to at least do three events and compete well. I want to contribute and get the scores that the team needs.”

Finally at home among the Mountaineers, Millick’s potential, experience and drive should set her up for one special, memorable sophomore season.