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 13th entry centering on freshman Dayah Haley. A native of Pasadena, Md., Haley has impressed the WVU coaches early, and she further solidified her all-around potential by hitting four-for-four routines at the Gold-Blue scrimmage at Pitt on Dec. 10.
A level 10 gymnast out of Hills Gymnastics, Haley, a two-time Junior Olympics National Championships qualifier, finished in fifth place in the all-around at the 2011 level 10 national championships. She is enrolled in general studies.
MSNsportsNET.com: The coaching staff is really excited about your all-around potential. Do you feel confident that you have the skills to transition from club gymnastics to college gymnastics and to compete as an all-arounder?
Dayah Haley: It’s definitely been one of my goals. I feel like I have the skills that I need. I always worked so hard as an all-arounder at my club gym, and it has been natural to come to WVU and continue that.
MSNsportsNET.com: How has the transition from club gymnastics to Mountaineer gymnastics gone?
DH: It’s easier than I thought it would be. Everything is so much more strict in club gym, and there’s a lot more commotion. Here, you only have the top girls working out, so it’s a more fun environment for me. I really enjoy it a lot.
MSNsportsNET.com: Is any of that attributed to being a part of a team?
DH: Yes. The whole team environment makes everything easier. I’m not competing as an individual anymore. I work for my team, rather than for myself, which has me working harder. I’m working to help improve the team.
MSNsportsNET.com: Not many freshmen gymnasts have come to WVU and competed as an all-arounder right away. Is there any added pressure competing all four events?
DH: There’s a little more pressure for me because it’s not typical for a freshman to come in here and compete as an all-arounder. I’m proud that I can say that I have the potential. Everything is a bit overwhelming, but it’s fun, and I’m excited.
MSNsportsNET.com: What are some of the biggest lessons you learned at Hills Gymnastics that you are applying here?
DH: Self-discipline is a big one. Hard work is definitely something I learned in club gymnastics; you have to work for yourself. The coaches at WVU are more laid-back, which I like, but it’s also easier because I know how to motivate myself to work harder without someone on me 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
I feel more like an adult now – I like it.
MSNsportsNET.com: What’s your favorite event to compete?
DH: Definitely vault. I’m a powerful person, and it’s just one of those things where you go and you give it your all. It’s fun! It’s also my best event, and it lets you get all of your energy out.
It’s such a natural event because I’ve been competing in it for so long now. It’s just momentum. However it turns out, it turns out.
MSNsportsNET.com: Do you have any funny stories associated with vault?
DH: On the first day at my club gym, when I was about 13 years old, I got so into impressing my new coaches and teammates, I tripped over my own foot and fell flat on my face! It was terrible. I got so far ahead of myself while running down the runway, I just wiped out. It was a mess!
Of course it was the first day, and that would happen to me. It’s just my luck. Oh well!
MSNsportsNET.com: Are you excited for the weekly grind of the WVU gymnastics season?
DH: I’m really excited. I’m not used to one meet every week, so I’ll have to get used to that, but I’m very excited.
MSNsportsNET.com: What’s the one goal you’d really like to accomplish this season?
DH: There’s so many! I would like to hit my routines. I also want to be the most enthusiastic teammate. If someone is having a hard day, I want to go and cheer her up. I don’t really have personal goals – I just want to help the team be successful.
MSNsportsNET.com: Do you know all of the team cheers yet for competition?
DH: (laughs) I don’t know all of the cheers yet! The upperclassmen are teaching us right now. I’m not really the fastest learner, so it will take me some time. Hopefully it will all come naturally soon.
MSNsportsNET.com: What does being a Mountaineer mean to you?
DH: Being a Mountaineer means having enthusiasm and being a good student. Respect and hard work are also important.
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