This is the third in a series of three question and answer sessions with the freshmen from the Golden Gopher women’s gymnastics team. This week's featured gymnast is Lucy Ennis, who comes to the Golden Gopher program from Roseville, Minn., and Twin City Twisters. She had a standout career in club gymnastics, earning trips to the Junior Olympic National Championships three times. Here she talks about her experiences so far as a member of the Minnesota gymnastics team.
What is one challenge you’ve faced since coming to campus this fall?
I kind of have an advantage because I’m close to home and haven’t had to adjust as much as some others. One adjustment was that I’m tend to be very punctual, and I had a hard time figuring out how long it would take me to get places around campus. Just keeping track of my schedule was also an adjustment.
Your high school (Trinity School in Bloomington, Minn.) was pretty small, and then you came to a university with more than 50,000 students. What was it like to make that transition?
It actually wasn’t too bad. It’s wonderful being a part of this team, because you come in with a community already built around you, and friends, and people you can go to. I probably wouldn’t have come to such a big state school if I hadn’t known that I would have that built-in community.
You grew up in the Twin Cities area, so did you follow the Gophers when you were younger?
I did pay attention to the gymnastics program off and on. I started gaining interest when Mary Anne Kelley was competing for the team (1999-2002), that’s when I started following the team more. I wasn’t one of those who knew from the wee years that I wanted to be a Gopher. Also, I’m the only one in my family who competes in gymnastics, my family doesn’t really have a history with the sport, so we didn’t watch a lot of gymnastics when I was really young.
How did you get started in the sport of gymnastics?
It was one of those rec things. I always loved the monkey bars and climbing up the slides, I loved playgrounds and things like that. My parents signed me up for rec gymnastics, and it was just one of those things where it got to the point where I was ready to move up to the next level. I didn’t know where it was going to take me.
When did you start to realize that you were talented enough to compete in gymnastics at the collegiate level?
Actually, I started thinking about that fairly early, probably at 11 or 12. That’s when I was clued into the college scene, and I watched some other girls get college scholarships. That really motivated me, it was always in the back of my mind that maybe I could achieve that.
What do you love most about gymnastics, what’s the one thing that has made it worth dedicating so much of your time to the sport?
I love the days that are rought but you come out thinking that you really accomplished something. I really love the challenge of it. You find out a lot about yourself that you didn’t know. You don’t really know what you’re capable of until you really push yourself, and gymnastics allows me to do that. Also, I love the thrill of flying through the air, then landing on your feet and knowing that you did it right.
What’s your favorite event to compete in?
I actually don’t really have a favorite. I really love them all, they each have their own thrill. If I had to pick one event, I would probably have to pick bars, but that’s only by a little bit, because I really like all four events.
What’s the biggest difference between college gymnastics and club gymnastics?
College gymnastics is more about precision, in your gymnastics and in your mental training, in everything. What really struck me is that the numbers go down in college gymnastics, the quantity is smaller, but the quality with which you do it is so much greater. Every turn is more perfect than what we were expected to do in club. In club gymnastics, you fell, but you just got up and did it again. You tried to do everything you could to stay on the beam, but it wasn’t so important what it looked like. College gymnastics is definitely a different focus.
The team always sets goals that you’ll work toward together, but do you have individual goals that you’d like to accomplish this year or during your college career?
I really don’t know what to expect quite yet, so it’s hard to set really concrete goals. I would love to just be consistent, I struggled with that toward the end of high school, and it’s hard to stay consistent when you get into the harder skills. I would just like to be consistently there, whether or not I compete on every event and every meet, I just want to be able to contribute to my team’s success. I want to perform well and be clean. I’m just excited, I don’t really know what to expect, I’m just working hard and doing what my coaches tell me to do, and trusting that they will lead me to where I need to be.
On the academic side of things, have you decided on a major yet?
I think I’m going to go into physiology, I would love a career in nursing. I’m really interested in anatomy and human functions. So, I think I’ll study physiology in undergrad, and then the U has an 18-month graduate program for nursing.
When you were choosing a college, what where the things you considered most, and the things that made Minnesota stand out?
Coming from a small private school, academics were always really important to me, so that played a big role in my decision. I looked at team GPA, the balance between school and athletics, and the services that the school provides for academic support. Also, I’m the oldest in my family, I have four younger siblings, so I didn’t want to go too far away from home just because my siblings are still young and I wanted to be close to my family. Then, Jim and Meg are just great, I really love them, and I loved all the girls on the team. It really felt like a family to me here, so Minnesota seemed to have the full package. Plus, I love the Twin Cities, some people who grow up here want to go away fro college, but I love it here. I love being outdoors, I enjoy the lakes and the parks.
With a big family, you’ll have your own cheering section in the Sports Pavilion at home meets. Are you excited about that?
Actually, it will be even more than my family. My mom is determined to recruit lots of fans! It will be really fun.
When you think about competing in the Sports Pavilion, what are you looking forward to the most?
I think I’m most excited just to compete with my teammates, because they’re so motivating, so positive, and they challenge me. I’m also excited to be on the floor at the Pav, and not in the stands watching. I’m also looking forward to representing my school, I’ve never had that experience before since you don’t really get that in private club gymnastics since the audience is mostly friends and family. Having school spirit and competing for something greater than myself will mean so much.
You talked about how much you enjoy living in the Twin Cities. When you have free time, how do you like to spend it?
I really do love being outside, so I go for bike rides, or go rollerblading. I like to go to the lakes and rivers. There are different places in the Twin Cities like Grand Avenue in St. Paul or Uptown in Minneapolis that I like. I just like to hang out with friends to, I love being around people and having fun.