Stanford freshman works hard for team, not self
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Dennis Zaremski may be just a freshman, but there are those who consider him a big part of the future of the program at Stanford.
Zaremski finished tied for second on the rings in Friday's qualifying round with a score of 15.300. He also posted a career-best mark of 14.750 on the parallel bars, good enough for another tie, this time for third. Overall, Stanford wound up second in the qualifier, a little more than a full point behind leader and host school Penn State.
“Personally, I’m not too worried about my performance,” Zaremski said earlier in the week. “I just want to go out there, do my best and see what happens. If I could be All-American on rings and parallel bars, that’d be great, but I’m not going in with any expectations. I’m just going to do my job.”
The thing that has set Zaremski apart for much of the season is his signature move, and it’s one that’s reportedly unique in NCAA competition. He calls it simply “The Zaremski.”
In a nutshell, Zaremski goes from a move called the Maltese, where he’s parallel to the ground at ring height, arms outstretched, into a bounce. What’s different about The Zaremski is that he then goes into a V-cross, where his head and feet are both straight up in the air, his arms again outstretched on the rings.
He came up with The Zaremski in an attempt to increase the difficulty of his routine. Incredibly, he insists that it didn’t take long for him to pick up on it.
“With a skill like that, it’s more about general strength and maybe a little bit of flexibility, too, than it is technical skill,” he said. “It’s not like one of these high-flying moves on the high bar, where you have to practice it many times before you’re able to do it. It was like I was strong enough to do it, so I did it.”
Although he hasn’t been at Stanford long, Zaremski has already picked up a reputation for being an extraordinarily hard worker. When something doesn’t work for him, when he makes a mistake, when he needs to learn something -- he takes it seriously and uses it as motivation to do better the next time.
“If I find something, it gets me frustrated,” he said. “I feel like there’s no reason that should’ve happened, so I just try to work as well as I can to prevent that sort of thing from happening.
“For me, it doesn’t even feel like I’m working hard. It just feels like I’m addressing what I need to address. I don’t feel like I’m doing anything particularly special. I’m really not special in that way.”
That’s especially the case, Zaremski stresses, on a gymnastics squad like Stanford’s. Working hard isn’t anything out of the ordinary because everybody works hard. It’s what he calls a “no BS approach to training.” Just do your work, do it well and leave the drama at the door.
“I’m training with a group of people day in and day out in the gym, hours of hard work,” he said. “We’re all going through this together. This is a team goal. It’s not an individual goal.
“It’s a group of people that’s trying to achieve something. It’s not anything that I’m trying to achieve alone. Trying to secure my spot in the lineup and performing as best I can, that’s so my team can do well. It’s not so I can do well personally.”
Just a month ago over spring break, the team journeyed to Norway to compete against the Norwegian and Italian national gymnastics teams. It was the kind of bonding experience and opportunity to compete internationally that few ever get.
“That was amazing,” Zaremski said. “I was really lucky to go, because that was the first time our school has done something like that. It was just a great trip, a lot of fun.”
If Norway was a lot of fun, what might a national championship be like?