Friday, March 6, 2009

Pearls of Dawgy Wisdom...

Okay, okay, I know I used to say that I didn't cover college gymnastics, but lately what else is there to cover? Besides, I love NCAA gymnastics.
What's that saying? "When you all you get is lemons, make lemonade!"
That's what I am doing folks!
Besides, this isn't lemonade.  It's better.

Now, on with my rant!

Please, don't get me wrong as I head off on yet another of my lengthy diatribes.
I love the Gym dogs. I really, really do. They are a wonderful bunch of girls who seem to have great personalities to match their great gymnastics.
Even if they are almost annoyingly good, they seems to have had a great work ethic and a team spirit banged into them by Suzanne Yoculan (if they didn't have it already).
In interviews they are always bright, happy, earnest and loyal to the team concept considering the depth of individual competitive experience among them.
BUT, as I perhaps alluded to, when describing Suzanne Yoculan's penchant for sports psycho-babble in my last College Gymnastics entry, I sometime feel like they are overly fond of that hyper-inspirational, highly repetitive type of "sports-speak".

What I mean by that is that it is, how often you hear them utter cliched phrases about their team and their competitions in media interviews. I f you don't know what I am talking about, here are a few examples.

"I didn't to it for me, I did it for the team"

"We just went out there and did our best and our best was (or wasn't) good enough"

"I just had to believe in myself and my team"

"She brings so much (insert adjective here) to the team"

I also can't stand it when they bandy about much overused buzz words like


and my least favorite,


(I'm sorry but Suzanne Yoculan throws the word "adversity" around (as in "we faced all kinds of adversity" out there today") like there is no tomorrow. Watch the Under the Lights documentary on the Dogs and count how many times she says it! It's incredible!
To me, facing adversity is growing up black in all-white neighborhood, or having to smuggle your children out of a war-torn country in a suitcase, not a couple of gymnasts stepping out of the floor lines in a meet! I like Suzanne and it's not that she is using the words incorrectly, i just think she uses it with unnecessary hyperbole)

And it's not that the sentiments behind these trained responses made by the Georgia girls aren't good OR true. They are important pieces of wisdom about what is necessary for being great at the game or a good team player.
But it's just that (and this is not just a Gym dogs thing, you hear it in all sports, its just that the Gym dogs are particularly good at it!) these kinds of sayings become worn with overuse. To me, it gets to the point where they start to sound empty or trite. 
Sometimes they interview on of the girls after a meet or during training and they can reel off a string of these kinds of statements.

and I KNOW it is absolutely part of a coaches job to find ways, through motivational speech, to inspire their athletes and that certain buzz words like "fight" and "potential" and "teamwork" have power and valency in this world, but sometimes, it gets ridiculous. Take this speech from Suzanne Yoculan,

"That's what I'm talking about when I talk about fight. Today was very exciting. This is a team of competitors, and competitors feed off negative remarks and want to prove them wrong. They found the fight to find the potential."

Found the fight to find the potential?


But this is why it is so lovely for me when on the odd occasion when A Gym Dog expresses something heartfelt or something original in an interview. It's exhilarating when they actually come out with some thing smart and spontaneous that is said in their own words, without employing those usual trite phrases.
It can be so, so refreshing that I really wish they did it more.
We've had a few of these moments over the years as the Dogs have been asked to talk about their success, their team mates, their strengths and their weaknesses (even Suzanne has had a moment or two). 
Sometimes it is, to use one of those well worn phrases, the little things that give people character.
Here are a few of those lovely moments.

"Oh my God! I stuck that vault!"
Hilary Mauro screams in a post-meet interview

"Life on earth can get pretty boring without conflict, but when you have moments when a team rises up and fights......and wins.....I have no words!"
Grace Taylor

"I don't really like to eat with her because she will not let you pick off her plate!"
Abby Stack on Marcia Newby.

"It's nice to spend some time being lazy because it is a very rare occurrence for us."
Amber Trani on a having a Sunday off.

"There is no way I am going to be able to sleep for days. I have a lot of beer to drink."
Suzanne Yoculan after a Super Six win.

"I. Cannot. Wait."
Hilary Mauro on starting 2009 season.

"Grace just came up to me and told me "That was really fun. Go get it!".... and I did!"
Kupets on going onto floor against Florida.

"Well, that shows how much I know about the importance of warm-ups!"
Yoculan after a bad Georgia warm-up resulted in a great meet.

"I don't know what it is about her, but when she gets up on the floor, she makes everyone feel awesome."
Courtney K having McCool back

"Finally, wemight have a beam line up.  That's exciting!"
Tiff Tolnay on McCool's return

"You can can count on her."
Suzanne Yoculan on McCool's return to the game.

And  CourtneyMcCool was pretty happy about being back too;

"I feel like I am breathing for the first time in fourteen weeks!"
On knowing she will return to the line up.

"Oh I needed that!"
Her ecstatic, speechless claim after competing again for the first time since her injury.

On a side note; 
Hell, even their fans are known to wax lyrical from time to time!
In an opinion piece called
"Gym Dogs: Will Ya Be My Valentine?",
Gymdogs fan Sean Crane explains why he would be the man for the Valentines job!

"So, in the long held tradition of kindergardeners everywhere, I would like to ask the Gym Dogs to be my Valentines.

I promise to be the greatest guy that 14 women ever had, while exuding the sensitivity that even Dawson Leery lacks.

When you're tired from a day of practice, I'll serenade you with Celine Dion's Greatest Hits on my ukelele.

When you're feeling down after spraining an ankle, I'll recite poems plagiarising the words of great men like Too Short, Tupac and Sir mix-a-lot.

If you're having trouble with your floor routines, I'll show you some steps I learned from watching Christina Aguilera's "get dirrty" videos,

Now I know it's hard to respond, but don't make any hasty decisions like putting a restraining order on me!"

Red and Black, March 5, 2009.


  1. Lovely article...keep the NCAA reports coming! -Thanx :-D

  2. had a lot of nice vocabulary in that post. Good observations as well. I'm going to have to keep an eye on you. Thought you were just a leo freak...but now I think there is something under the hood.

    On topic: I don't like the trite interviews either. I think good interviewers can draw out more interesting aspects by asking questions that basically force the subject to give us more of a learning-containing response. Some people just tend to give them by the way. I really liked Jim Zorn's press conferences as new coach for the Redskins. It was as if we were inside the coach's strategy session. As if we were getting taught something.

    Please get rid of the word verification thingie. And unmoderate please.

  3. I think that Suzanne Yoculan is a legend in her own mind. She actually gave away Yoculan action figuers at one of her last home meets (this is her final season before she retires)

    Anyway I agree that that gymdogs really go overboard about the drama factor and that adversity is better used to describe truly adverse situations. But then in America and to some extent the entire world is used to hyperbole and often words lose their original meanings when people talk about the adversity of spraining an ankle or something silly.

  4. Sorry guys, I'm not removing the word verification or the moderation on comments because already spammers have tried to advertise though my comments. I have never not posted a comment from a real reader, even the negative feedback, but i thought i'd spare us all the bull@#$% of the of the pesky moneygrubbers by moderating.

  5. Looks like your 2 favorites teams competed Sunday (UCLA vs UGA). Although the Gym Dogs came on top, the coolest thing was this interview, Lol. Looks like Ms. Val got hip to Suzanne's "adversity" lingo. watch the interview:

    By the way: this is a great site for info, if u don't know about it already (which you probably do)

    Have a great Day!

  6. Oh god you are so right, B.J! I came home from a weekend away and only had time to watch the McCool 10 and H-Hibbs routines before bed (by the way, yes, I love gymnastike! I am still waiting for them to approve the link to this blog. maybe they never will though) I just watched that Kondos interview now.
    But you know what? I forgive Val for saying adversity (though i am still NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT) because she is so down to earth and normal ussually. But I do wonder how the other girls feel about her saying that thing about having ten Arianna Berlins on the team......

  7. Haha, yeah I thought about that same thing. Personally, I'm glad there's only 2 Arianna because that would be 11 hip-hop routines too many, Lol. Love her routine though...just wouldn't want to see a whole line up of it. Brittany McCullough is my favorite this season.

  8. The Ariana Berlin comment was a little rude but then Ariana has been a major asset to the bruins. She competed in every single meet in the regular season during her entire career, was incredibly consistent and of course there's that whole came back from a 5 year retirment, had a rod in her leg that prevented her from practicing tumbling most of the time, etc.