Gymnastics Rookie Files: Hope Sloanhoffer

  • By Shannon McNamara
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  • December 20, 2010 04:46 PM
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Throughout the WVU gymnastics team’s 2011 fall preseason, the Mountaineers have taken the time out of their busy schedules to share stories of practice and preparation with the fans.

In an effort to introduce this year’s freshman class to the Mountaineer nation, each rookie gymnast will sit down with MSNsportsNET.com and share an interesting story or two from her club gym days.

First up is Hope Sloanhoffer. After finishing seventh out of 56 competitors on the all-around at the 2010 level 10 national championships, she is expected to contribute immediately in 2011 and could push for an lineup spot in all four events.

Mountaineer gymnasts are known for logging long hours in Cary Gym. First there are the three hours of practice, followed by an hour with the strength & conditioning staff. On top of that, there are choreography and video sessions sprinkled into the schedule.

Freshman Hope Sloanhoffer was prepared for the added responsibilities – at least on the gymnastics end. She laughs when recalling how the increased academic expectations sent mini-shockwaves through her system.

“College is definitely a lot different than high school!,” the Cornwall, N.Y., native exclaimed. “My teachers used to tell me how different it was going to be, but I never really believed them. It’s so different. You actually have to take responsibility for your assignments and such.”

Sloanhoffer quickly states that she has been able to adapt to the heavier workload, but with one semester of college behind her, she still marvels at the way time seems to fly by at WVU, especially once her team’s preseason started on Sept. 13.

“I did not expect to be so busy,” she said. “I always thought I’d have more down time in college, but that didn’t really happen. There’s study hall, practice, conditioning – it’s a lot!”

The pre-exercise physiology major says despite the long hours, there is one very important perk to joining the ranks of collegiate gymnastics – a gym in close proximity of her residence. A five-year team captain at Gymnastics Revolution in Danbury, Ct., Sloanhoffer had grown accustomed to traveling one hour each way for her daily practice sessions.

The master of time management, Sloanhoffer’s schedule while attending Cornwall Central High rivaled even the most time-demanding full-time job. Up at 6:30 a.m. each morning, she would attend school before leaving a few periods earlier than her classmates. After a short 15-minute stop at home, she was in the car and en route to Danbury for her 3:30 p.m. practice session. Back at home by 8:30 p.m., she would fit in a few hours of homework, try to get to bed by a decent hour and restart the cycle again the next day.

“When I tell people that I had to travel an hour each way for practice, they usually tell me I was crazy, or something like that,” Sloanhoffer said matter-of-factly. “That was just what I always did since I was seven-years-old. I never knew better, and I was used to it.

“You learn to use your time wisely, which helps here. Having had a strict routine in high school gave me an edge in college.”

Comfortable in her new routine, Sloanhoffer looks forward to adding a new wrinkle – competitions and traveling. With her first meet as a Mountaineer scheduled for Jan. 7, against No. 13 Missouri, in Cancun, Mexico, the eager rookie says she’s thrilled to be a part of a team.

“It’s so nice – I love it,” she said enthusiastically. “All of the girls have been amazing.”

Sloanhoffer’s new teammates have reciprocated her sentiments with their own praise, specifically regarding the young gymnast’s work ethic, diligence and potential.

For her part, Sloanhoffer says she’s excited to hear that her teammates are happy.

“I didn’t expect anything when I came here,” she explained. “I came here excited, but I feel like I’ve been practicing the same way I did in club.”

Her hope is to compete immediately as an all-arounder.

“It’s definitely a big task, but I’m hoping to get that chance,” she said. “If I do, I know I’ll be excited. Hopefully after a meet or two, I’ll settle into the role a little more. I just have to get used to the college competition scene – hopefully, then it will be less intimidating.”

As she’s already proven, Sloanhoffer is more than capable of tackling challenges that stand in her way. Armed with an uncanny sense of preparation and an enviable drive, she stands on the cusp of an exciting four-year Mountaineer career.

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