Feb. 22, 2012
Athletic Communications Student Assistant
Freshman Kyle Banks has been a pleasant surprise for the Gopher men's gymnastics team so far this season. The first year walk-on from Perris, California has already stepped up big for the Gophers with some clutch performances.
"Being a walk-on and knowing what the team needed, I knew I would be used on the high bar," Banks said. "But I didn't realize how much I'd actually be contributing to the amount of success our team has had. The whole experience has been great. It feels really good being able to show people that even as a walk-on I am a key part of the team."
Banks began the season competing on the high bar and floor exercise. He has had several top finishes in those events and is currently ranked tenth in the nation on the floor. He was also recently added to the vault lineup to take the place of an injured teammate.
"I knew Kyle had the potential to be a key player when I watched him compete in the Junior program," head coach Mike Burns said. "He is daring, competes very well, and does some big skills. He's a natural performer, and he enjoys being our there showing off the things he does so well. Also, he sets a high standard for himself and doesn't accept mediocrity. That's a great quality for a gymnast to possess."
If the pressure of being a freshman competitor has gotten to him at all, Banks hasn't let it show.
"There is definitely some added pressure being a freshman in the lineup," Banks said. "But the other freshmen and I have been able to use it to our advantage. Because we are stepping up and contributing, we have become closer as a team and are feeding off of each other's successes."
Even Banks has been surprised with his early success. He attributes his accomplishments to his teammates and coaches.
"Individually, I'm surprised at how well the season has gone for me so far. My biggest accomplishment is being able to compete on three different events," Banks said. "I owe a lot of my success to my teammates and the coaching staff. They have all helped me a great deal. In the gym we all push each other to give our best every day. And during meets it's easy to feed off the energy coming from the guys."
Bank's achievements both as an individual and team member have inspired him to set high goals for himself for the remainder of the 2012 season.
"I always strive to do my very best and show everyone that I'm a big competitor. My personal goal is to earn All-American honors on one of my events. As for the team I want to help get us into the top six so we can compete for the NCAA Championship."
Burns sees the spark Banks adds to the team and knows he can be counted on when the team needs a hit routine.
"I want to see Kyle continue to compete successfully and continue to enjoy the sport," Burns said. "It's very demanding at this level, and he seems to be handling it well. I hope he continues to be a guy who has a positive impact on our team, and I'm looking forward to see what he will accomplish."