Twists and flips are what make gymnastics exciting, but the California women’s gymnastics team is probably eager to keep that kind of suspense on the competition floor after the season of ups and downs they have endured.
On Sept. 28, Cal announced it would cut the program after the season – along with men’s gymnastics, baseball and women’s lacrosse – due to the university system’s financial crisis.
“When I told my team on Sept. 28, it was one of the hardest things I’ve done,” said Cari DuBois, nine-year head coach. “I couldn’t stop crying. I felt so bad for them because my experience as a collegiate athlete was why I am doing what I’m doing. It was devastating.”
Last Friday, while getting ready for an away meet at Arizona State, DuBois got a call from campus officials letting her know the program, along with women’s lacrosse, would be spared. Baseball and men’s gymnastics – programs that have been existence at Cal for a century or more – were not saved.
“When I got the call, I was super-excited for the sport of women’s gymnastics and my team, but it was a bittersweet emotion because I’d been working with the men’s gymnastics and baseball team on this,” said DuBois. “The fact they weren’t reinstated was a tough blow to handle.”
Fundraising efforts by all of the programs — as well as rugby which had faced demotion to a club team — will help fund the teams’ expenses while plans are implemented for long-term financial self-sufficiency.
Earlier this week, DuBois planned to meet with her student-athletes individually and answer questions about the budget and scholarships and the reinstatement in general. She also expected to field questions regarding the baseball and men’s gymnastics programs, especially because of the battle the student-athletes shared with those teams to save their programs.
“It’s been a rollercoaster all season,” said DuBois. “They’ve all had their days where it has really been hard to handle. It’s definitely been a challenging season.”
The Golden Bears, who have won just one dual meet this season, will travel to UC Davis on Feb. 20. DuBois expects a relieved and rejuvenated team to step out on the competition floor.
“Before, they were about going out with a bang and finishing on the best note they possibly could,” said DuBois. “They’ve been working really hard. Now that we know we get to come back it has just heightened that excitement. It’s very motivating. These ladies had something precious to them taken away, and now they don’t want to take anything for granted.”
Need to Know
• Michigan senior Kylee Botterman notched the first 10.0 of the collegiate season, winning the vault with a perfect score in a tri-meet against Stanford and Nebraska on Feb. 13. It is the second 10.0 of her career. The mark also lifted Botterman to her sixth all-around title victory, and her fifth Big Ten Gymnast of the Week award of the season. Fellow senior Trish Wilson also competed in her first home meet of the season, tying a career-high with a 9.925 on the uneven bars to win the event. Wilson had missed the last two seasons after suffering the fourth knee injury of her gymnastics career.
• UCLA freshman Samantha Peszek made her collegiate debut last weekend after being sidelined in the Bruins’ first five meets due to a foot fracture. Peszek was originally scheduled to do an exhibition on the uneven bars at the IGI/Chicago Style meet, but was placed into the lineup after warm-ups and posted a 9.9 to tie for first place in the event. It was her first bar routine in competition for the former U.S. Olympian since the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The native of Indianapolis, Ind., was awarded Pac-10 Special Performance of the Week for her efforts.
• Boise State junior Amy Glass became the first Bronco to ever hold a No. 1 national ranking in any gymnastics event as she moved up to the top spot on the balance beam this week. Glass boasts a 9.875 average on the event. The Broncos also claimed their highest team ranking in program history at No. 11 with a 195.215 average.
• Stanford set a school-record for the program’s best start at 13-0 after rallying to defeat Michigan and Nebraska in a tri-meet in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Feb. 13. The Cardinal had trailed the Wolverines after three rotations, but registered a season-high score of 49.325 on the uneven bars to pull out the victory.
• Arkansas topped LSU in Baton Rouge for the first time last weekend, running the Razorbacks’ Southeastern Conference winning streak to four consecutive for the first time in program history. Junior Jaime Pisani collected her fourth consecutive all-around title, as well a victory on the floor (9.90).
• Central Michigan junior Kristin Teubner captured three events, including the all-around (39.250) to lift the Chippewas to a win versus Kent State to move into first place in the Mid-American Conference. CMU broke Kent State’s 20-meet MAC winning streak, and Teubner was named MAC Gymnast of the Week for her outstanding performance.
• San Jose State’s Thomasina Wallace was selected Western Athletic Conference Gymnast of the Week after winning the all-around title in a quad meet against Boise State, UC Davis and Seattle Pacific with a 39.325. The score is the fourth-best mark in SJSU history. The junior from Pomona, Calif., tied for individual titles on bars (9.900) and beam (9.900), helping the Spartans record the second-highest team score (195.550) in school history.