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.
Tumblers’ Tales will now focus on the Mountaineers’ eight newcomers, with the 12th entry centering on freshman Beth Deal. A native of Parkersburg, W.Va., Deal is a three-time level 10 regional qualifier out of Gymniks Gymnastics. A 2011 Junior Olympics National Championships qualifier, she also is a two-time level 10 West Virginia all-around champion and secured five all-around titles throughout her career.
Deal, a pre-nursing major, enters her rookie season as one of the team’s strongest beam workers. Also busy developing a competition vault, Deal is expected to contribute to WVU’s scores this year, and the Mountaineer coaches believe that she has a 9.9 score potential on beam.
MSNsportsNET.com: You’ve officially been a Mountaineer gymnast for roughly four months now. How do you feel when you hear “Beth Deal – Mountaineer gymnast.”
Beth Deal: It feels awesome. I’m so happy. So far, it’s been everything that I thought it would be – and better. The adjustment to college gymnastics was so easy for me, especially because the team was so welcoming. It was easier to be away from home because I knew I had a big group of girls standing behind me that really cared about me.
MSNsporttsNET.com: This year’s team is very split down the middle – half are returners and half are newcomers. Did that make meshing the two divisions easier?
BD: Yes. I already feel like I’ve been at WVU for four years, not four months!
MSNsportsNET.com: Have you lived in Parkersburg your whole life?
BD: I moved there the summer before my freshman year of high school. I used to live across the river in Ohio.
MSNsportsNET.com: Do you consider yourself a West Virginian?
BD: Yes! My club was in West Virginia, so I have always been a part of this state.
MSNsportsNET.com: Are you looking forward to representing the state now as a Mountaineer gymnast?
BD: Definitely! I’ve been looking forward to it for awhile. It doesn’t happen very often – there haven’t been too many gymnasts from West Virginia that have earned the opportunity to compete for WVU.
Competition season is going to be fun; all of the little girls that compete for the clubs in the state already know who I am. It’s going to be cool for them to get to see me compete.
MSNsportsNET.com: Were you able to attend any WVU gymnastics meets in the Coliseum before?
BD: I’ve been to a few. My club season always overlapped with the Mountaineers’ schedule, but any time I was free, I came up to Morgantown.
MSNsportsNET.com: What aspect of a home meet are you most looking forward to?
BD: I’m looking forward to the new atmosphere that surrounds college gymnastics. All eyes are on you, and you have a whole team behind you and screaming for you. Club gymnastics is so different; in college, you get to compete for a team and not just for yourself. It’s going to be cool to have so many supporters.
MSNsportsNET.com: The coaches are all very excited about your beam routine and the way you have showed poise while competing it in intrasquads. What are your thoughts on the routine?
BD: I’m pretty confident in it. I’ve had the same routine for two years. Everyone keeps telling me how pretty it, so that helps with my confidence, too.
When we have intrasquads, I don’t think that I’m going to fall. I hope to be the same way throughout competition season. I think that helps – when I get on the beam, I think I’m going to stay on.
MSNsportsNET.com: First-year coach (Bridget) Boyd has been leading the beam squad throughout preseason. How has her leadership helped you in Cary Gym?
BD: She’s awesome! She’s really encouraging. She always says things like, “You can do it guys! I believe in you!” That really helps, and I really like her.
MSNsportsNET.com: Sophomore Hope Sloanhoffer came in as a freshman and immediately impacted the beam lineup. Have you looked for help from her?
BD: Yes. Hope can calm us all down a lot because she is so confident in herself. When I see the way she carries herself in the gym, I want to follow her lead. Being thrown in to the same category as Hope on beam is really encouraging. It’s Hope – she awesome!
MSNsportsNET.com: The coaches have said you have the potential to score a 9.9 on beam this season. Are you thinking about scores right now?
BD: Yes, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. That would be awesome!
MSNsportsNET.com: This weekend’s intrasquad at Pitt will be the first time you put on a Mountaineer uniform in an away gym. Are you nervous?
BD: I’m more anxious than nervous. I’m excited to get out there and compete with my college team. Even though these scores don’t count, there’s still going to be pressure because how we compete at Pitt will go far in determining the lineups for the season.
I’m just really excited. I’m already in the top eight on beam. Even though it’s just one event, to come in as a freshman and have the potential to compete right away – that’s so exciting.
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