Starkell was named Big Ten co-Coach of the Year for the second straight season in 2010.
May 18, 2010
Get behind the scenes of Illinois Gymnastics with Illini Ink - the weekly women's gymnastics journal. In this year's 30th edition, head coach Bob Starkell recaps the 2010 season.
It's amazing how fast this year went! It just seems like last week when we had five young freshmen moving into the dorms, trying to find their classes, and adjusting to life on their own. Having a freshmen class that represented more than a third of the team came with it's fair share of transitions to college life. With each week something new (and at times exciting) arose. The Fall flew by and competition time was here!
The 2010 season started a little slower than we had anticipated. Feeling pressure to compete where we left off from last year was ever so high. It's difficult to get to the NCAA championships for the first time but even more of a challenge to make a return trip.
With the slow start, it did give the team an opportunity to reflect on all the things it takes to make it to nationals. By February, the team really started to show more confidence and consistency in their performances. The Penn State meet stand out as we scored our first 196 of the season and hit 24/24. Our juniors and seniors were beginning to hit their stride and due to their strong competitive experience, we had four all-arounders... all upperclassmen. This was especially great to see as it is very rewarding to witness seniors do their best gymnastics at the end of their career.
Truly I feel that this season was stronger at times than last year. At the end of February and the beginning of March, the Illini put up it's most consistent and highest scores no matter the venue. It was really nice to see that we could carry our strong performance week in and week out whether it was home or away. The team scored a 196 or higher five meets in a row, a feat that had never been accomplished before. By the end of season, the Illini had achieved six 196 marks, a score that had only been reached six times in the history of Illinois Gymnastics before this year.
With that being said, unfortunately our 196 momentum came to a halt at the Big Ten Championships. There is no question that this year's conference meet did not go as planned. We had a few obstacles that seemed to deter us from our ultimate goal. More or less we learned an important lesson the hard way. With the strength in the Big Ten, we can't expect to win on an average day much less a sub par day.
Thankfully, NCAA Regionals went better than conference, but again you need to come with everything when you want to move on to the "Big Dance". Yet another lesson learned by Illini. Unfortunately we came up a little bit short, but I believe that when given the opportunity again, the team will know what it takes.
After having a month to reflect on the season, I have realized how very proud I am of my team and staff this past year. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to work with and along the side of them. Each one carries on the responsibility of being a great ambassador to the university with pride. It's a excellent feeling to watch our seniors graduate after having developed life skills over the past four years that will lead them to success outside the gym. All four of our graduates will be pursuing post-graduate studies in 2011. Sentimentally it's tough to see them leave, but it's rewarding to see them enter into the real world as phenomenal young women.
That about wraps up 2010. We'll keep you updated as to how things are around Champaign and look forward to seeing all of you in 2011.