May 9, 2007
Get behind the scenes of Illinois Gymnastics with Illini Ink - the weekly women's gymnastics journal. In the final installment for the 2007 season, head coach Bob Starkell gives his thoughts on the year and looks forward to next season.
What an exciting year it has been! It's seems so long ago since we embarked on the journey for this season. At the early stages of preseason training I could see this group was willing to put in the necessary work to tackle their dreams and goals. Each week provided an interesting time for our young squad as there was never a dull moment. With so many young ladies gathering experience and learning life long lessons, we had to take it week-by-week.
As the season moved along, the staff and I could feel that this team was special and had all the characteristics to move further than we've ever gone before. And what an exciting ride it was. Our competition schedule was tough and it seemed like each week we were up against a ranked opponent, but we hung tough with everyone and pulled off a some upsets along the way and in the end it helped us tremendously. Each meet we grew stronger in confidence and kept finding the will to succeed. As with any team, we had a couple bumps in the road, but each obstacle provided a new learning experience.
One of the goals the ladies set at the beginning of the year was to appear on the podium at the Big Ten Championships with a top-three finish. With all the hard work this team put in during the season, it was great that they were able to realize one of their goals and experience the podium. To cap things off we also had a Big Ten event champion, with Cara Pomeroy turning in a beautiful bars set, and finished the season ranked in the top-20 in the national rankings.
This team made great strides this season and I believe that with a majority of the routines coming back, we'll have the opportunity to make it to nationals next year. This group of young ladies has the potential to take the Illini program to new heights, but it won't just happen, we've got to make it happen. If we can stay focused and continue to work hard during the off-season, I'm confident that the Fighting Illini will be "Movin' On Up" next season.
As for this year, I want to thank my team for the wonderful ride, my assistants (Kim and Amy) for their countless hours of hard work and the Illini fans for making Huff Hull an exciting home atmosphere.
Enjoy the summer...but get ready for another exciting year with the `Orange and Blue' next season!