MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia University junior gymnast Makenzie Bristol was asked to speak at the Mountaineer Athletic Club’s Scholarship Dinner in Charleston, W.Va., on April 22. Makenzie used this opportunity to share with those in attendance the immense honor and privilege she feels every day to represent WVU, and the gratefulness she shares with all Mountaineer student-athletes for the University community’s constant support. Below is Makenzie’s speech – read along as she says “thank you” on behalf of all WVU student-athletes.
Good evening! I guess you all know by now, but my name is Makenzie Bristol
and I grew up in Prosper, Texas. Growing up in the sport of gymnastics, especially in my club gym (World Olympic Gymnastics Academy), was never an easy task, to say the least. It is a time-consuming sport, and it is grueling on your body, like any other sport.
From the day I was born, I was a flipping queen, and I didn't know it yet, but I had a Mountaineer destiny to attend to. When my parents, David and Mendy, finally got tired of me flipping off the edge of the couch and watching television upside down, they decided gymnastics was the right sport for me. Honestly, I just think they wanted my spastic self off their hands! I can't tell you how many times growing up my dad would firmly say, ‘Makenzie, if you kick your brother in the face one more time…,’ or "could you PLEASE watch TV right-side up?’ If I had a penny for every time, I'd definitely be a millionaire by now!
During my journey through club gymnastics, I always thought I would choose a college close to home because I love my family so much. Once I started going on my college visits, I quickly found out that my plan of staying close to Texas was not going to work out. If you ask my family and friends, some would say I am slightly indecisive. In my mind, choosing a college was going to be THE WORST possible thing I could do. My visit to West Virginia was the last one I was taking on my extravagant college search, and then I was going to have to make a decision. Little did I know, I was about to fall in love with West Virginia and become a Mountaineer.
From the moment I stepped on the campus of West Virginia University, I knew it was home. From the scenery that I had never seen, to the wonderful coaches that already felt like my family, I was completely sold. Fast forward to my move-in day, and I was sold even more when President (James P.) Clements personally unloaded my overstuffed car and moved it into my painfully pink dorm room!
I was in awe the moment I stepped on campus, and it just kept getting better and better. I remember looking at my mom and saying, ‘Well... this is where I belong, you better get used to flying every weekend!’ I may be biased, but I believe WVU has the most amazing support staff and administration in the country – and the best athletic club behind us all. I absolutely fell in love with the built-in family that I wasn't even fully a part of yet. The fact that I had to leave my family in Texas was devastating for me, but I knew the family I was about to gain in West Virginia would make it all worth while.
The first time I got the privilege to compete in the WVU Coliseum as an official Mountaineer was an absolute honor. I am getting chills just thinking about it! You are a part of something so much bigger than yourself, and you truly can't believe you are there. You dream about it as a kid and picture it in your mind, but being down on the Coliseum floor, representing your entire University, is better than I could have imagined. The honor of wearing Old Gold and Blue and representing the Mountaineers as one is more humbling than I can express. To represent this wonderful University, and everyone who is a part of it and made it what it is, makes me want to perform even better.
Moving to the Big 12 Conference has been, and will be, great for the entire University. I also am a little bit excited to compete closer to home! The Big 12 is a great conference that will challenge every team to perform at a higher caliber than it already does and to work even harder, too. I cannot speak for all of the sports on this one, but I sure do know the gymnastics team wants to - and will - beat Oklahoma! The move to the Big 12 has really challenged us as student-athletes, and it is going to make us so much better in the long run.
Everything the Mountaineer supporters do does not go unnoticed by anyone, especially the student-athletes, and I hope you know how much we appreciate every one of you. My time here as a Mountaineer student-athlete has been a dream come true, and it would not have been possible without the backing of Mountaineer donors. I cannot believe three years have already flown by, and I can't wait to see what my senior year has to hold. I am truly blessed by the lifelong friendships and family I have made throughout my journey as a Mountaineer, and I can’t wait to see how many more are going to blossom. I hope you enjoyed your night with your student-athletes - we all appreciate your constant support to help us follow our dreams. Thank you for letting me be a part of this family, and Let's Go Mountaineers!