On the heels of his national-best vault performance at last weekend’s Windy City Invitational, senior men’s gymnast Mitchell Mays sat down with Gophersports.com to discuss gymnastics, life and the future.
Q: What are some of your aspirations this season, both gymnastics and personal?
A: Well personally, I would really like to study abroad next semester in Japan. As far as gymnastics goes, I guess I just want to do the best I can do. Hopefully I can medal and just help the team any way I can. Our goal is to leave the NCAA Championships with third place or better.
Q: You mentioned studying in Japan, have you narrowed down where in Japan you would like to be?
A: I really want to go to Tokyo, probably because I am from Houston, and I want to be in a big city.
Q: What was the catalyst that got you into Japanese culture?
A: I would have to admit Japanese anime. I just I started watching it on Cartoon Network, and I really loved the music. Once I heard my first song, I just loved it from the start.
Q: What got you into anime?
A: It has comedy, action, and drama. It pretty much has it all, and also like I said, the music is one aspect of it that really got me hooked.
Q: What is your best sports memory?
A: Well I guess my best sports memory would have to be my first time competing in high school. The first time I suited up in a full meet, and it wasn’t even that important of a meet, and just having all of the eyes only on me made it really exciting.
Q: How did you first become involved in gymnastics?
A: I actually have no clue. I think my parents utilized the shotgun method kind of. When I was younger, I was always involved in other sports; soccer, baseball, gymnastics, but eventually all the other sports just dropped off.
Q: What is your favorite sport to compete in besides gymnastics?
A: Probably volleyball because everyone on the team usually gets together to play every Saturday during the off-season. Pretty much though I stick to gymnastics.
Q: When you were younger, when did the other sports fade out?
A: They kind of dropped out I want to say before middle school. Mainly because or middle school had this PE program where you could leave a bit early if so you could go to gymnastics.
Q: What is in your mind, your best sports accomplishment?
A: My best sports accomplishment probably came last year when I placed second in the vault in Big Tens.
Q: Where do you see yourself post graduation?
A: I’ll be in Japan hopefully with a double major in computer science and Japanese. I also have had a few offers for jobs back home in Houston.
Q: Growing up, whom did you most idolize?
A: I always looked up to my father. He came from a really low-income family situation. If you want to get a picture of it, his house was really run down and they had chickens running around the back yard. Now he is working with a company called the Planet, which is an internet hosting company. He has really gotten far.
Q: What is your favorite book?
A: I would have to say Water Ship Down, but to be honest I can’t really remember who the author is off the top of my head right now which is weird because I have read that one a few times.
Q: How do you prepare the day of a big competition?
A: The day of I just relax and take it easy. I don’t want to run around get sweaty and lose my energy. So I guess I just take it easy.
Q: Do you have a favorite movie / actor or actress?
A; Well I would say my favorite movie is Love Actually, but one of my favorite actors would be Adam Sandler. I love any thing with Adam Sandler.
Q: Do you have any nic names on the team?
A: The guys usually call me Miacon. Honestly, I don’t know what it means, or even how you spell it.
Q: What is the most adversity you have overcome to date (knock on wood)?
A: Well, there hasn’t been anything big. I haven’t had very many serious injuries except for my shoulder. A few years back, I was doing a handstand dismount off the pummel horse and I feel straight down on my shoulder. I can still feel it. I would say that, along with the breaks and pains that everyone goes through.
Q: Being a computer tech major, do you prefer PCs or Macs?
A: (with a smile) PCs.