With thirteen returning gymnasts on this year’s Arizona team, three young women have been added to the team’s roster. Madison Cindric, Kennady Schneider, and Victoria Ortiz have all begun their journey as not only college students but student-athletes as well.
Cindric previously competed at Texas Dreams Gymnastics with coaches Kim Zmeskal-Burdette and Chris Burdett. She was the 2011 Level 10 beam regional champion, the Level 10 state beam and bars champion in 2012, and was the 2013 Level 10 regional beam champion.
Cindric was a Junior Olympic National qualifier in 2011, she was awarded Junior Olympic National 3rd All Around in 2013, and she was a Junior Olympic team member 2013. Coming into college, Cindric was not sure what to expect.
“I was home-schooled since fifth grade,” said Cindric. “So the social aspect is so different here but so exciting.”
Though a big change from her home in Texas, she is ecstatic about her experience so far. The positive atmosphere of the team has already had a huge impact on her, and the other freshmen agree.
“If I’m having a bad day, it can be completely turned around when I’m around the team,” said Cindric. “They’re so encouraging and they can make a bad day into the best day.”
Schneider says the supportive atmosphere extends much further than just inside the gym walls.
“I feel so much more support than I ever have while doing gymnastics,” said Schneider. “And that’s all because of the team, it’s like a family. The atmosphere is so positive all the time. I was never the confident gymnast growing up but having the team behind me and pushing me, I definitely feel myself gaining more confidence each day.”
Schneider previously competed for ten years at Gymcats for coaches Cassie Rice and Jill Preston. She qualified for Nationals in 2012, she qualified for National Invite Tournament in 2014, qualified for Nationals in 2014 and was the state bar and floor champion in 2014
Schneider says the support she has received from the team and the athletics department has made coming into college a smooth transition, and has had such a positive experience thus far.
“The athletics department is so great,” said Schneider. “In high school being a gymnast doesn’t really matter because you go to school and then you go to the gym when classes are out for the day and you don’t get to be as social or as involved with the school. But here you matter. The student-athletes are like a family here and it’s so nice just having our hard work pay off.”
Ortiz, a Tucson local, did not have to go far from home when starting college. However, she does think being on Arizona’s team is a far different experience than being on a club team.
“Being on this team is a lot different than being on a club team because here we are all the same age,” said Ortiz. “Our bonds are different and it’s very team-oriented. The team is so helpful and nice, especially the seniors. When I’m having a bad day they always have the right words to say to get me on my feet again. They’re really experienced so they always have great advice to give.”
Ortiz competed eight years at Arizona Dynamics under Gina Mueller and Tricia Oagle. In 2014 she qualified for National Invitational Tournament.
Though all three gymnasts come from different parts of the country, they all can agree that they have found a new home at the University of Arizona.
“I’m excited about the team atmosphere at Arizona since I come from an environment where it’s all about you,” said Cindric. “So it’s a great change. The team works as a whole to help you achieve your goals and it makes each of us feel like we have an important role on the team.”
The trio of freshmen will make their debut in their first meet as Arizona gymnasts at McKale Center on Friday, January 16, at 7 p.m. when the Wildcats host a quad meet against Illinois-Chicago, Sacramento State and Wisconsin-Stout.