Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Catching up with Anna Glenn

Anna Glenn is a level 10 gymnast from Southeastern Gymnastics in Weddington, North Carolina. Born in Nanchang China, Anna and her twin sister Grace were adopted in 1999 and both started gymnastics shortly after. Ever since, the pair have been unstoppable. Often times they go head to head in competitions, battling it out for first place and they have even committed to the same college-UCLA! Anna is the 2012 JO National uneven bars champion (she also placed 2nd on beam) and a two time Nastia Liukin Cup qualifier! Last year she finished sixth all around and second on beam at the 2014 JO National Championships. So far this season, Anna has won the balance beam title as well as the all around at every competition she's competed in! Talk about impressive!

We caught up with Anna to talk about her goals for this season, UCLA, competing with her twin sister and more!

Photo belongs to Gym-Style.com

How did you get started in gymnastics?
I got started with gymnastics by going to a friends Olympiad. Instead of watching, I was jumping on the equipment and could not stay still. To control some of my energy, my parents decided to put me in gymnastics. Also, being born in China, my growth motor skills were delayed so I was put in gymnastics to help with that.

Have you been back to China to visit? 
My family and I went back in August of 2008, right before the Olympics.

What is like training and competing with your twin sister? 
Training and competing with my sister makes my life a lot easier. We are really close as we do everything together. We both are each others toughest competition and generally finish one and two at every meet, but we are both very supportive of each other.

You and your sister are both committed to UCLA for the 2016-2017 school year. Did you always plan to go to the same college? 
My sister and I knew we wanted to go to the same college from the start. We couldn't imagine being separated during such a big part of our lives. We were looking for the same opportunities and had the same expectations while looking at colleges.

What are you looking forward to most about competing in college gymnastics?
I am looking forward to the team aspect and making life long friendships. I'm also excited about competing on the west coast and enjoying sunny California!

Why did you choose UCLA?
I chose UCLA because I was really drawn to the campus, location, coaches and academic program. Both my sister and I were looking for a school that had both a great academic program as well as gymnastics program. We felt that UCLA was the best option for these criteria.

Many high profile athletes such as Simone Biles, Kyla Ross, and Madison Kocian are committed to UCLA. How exciting is that? 
I am super excited to compete with such high level athletes such as Simone, Kyla and Madison. I think that we all will become very close quickly,

What has been the proudest moment in your career so far? 
The proudest moment in my career was when I qualified to the Nastia Cup at the Greensboro Invitational. We competed on a podium and it was a super fun meet. I nailed my beam routine, which was my last event, and knew that I had won.

What is it like competing in the Nastia Cup and are you nervous to compete in such a big arena for this years cup?
Competing at the Nastia Cup is good competition for me. I like being in a competition where I really have to fight to win. I like competitions- the large stadium just pumps up my adrenaline.

Was there ever a point in your career where you considered trying for elite? 
After my first year of level 10, my coach, sister, and family discussed elite, but we never really wanted to do it in the first place. My sister and I thought it would be best to enjoy our high school career as a level 10 and save our bodies for collegiate gymnastics.

What are some of your goals- for this season and in the future? 
Some goals I have for the rest of the season are to do well at the Nastia Cup, stay consistent, qualify to regionals and nationals again, and do well at nationals. Some of my future goals are to stay healthy, win an NCAA title, and excel at UCLA.

Are you currently working on any upgrades? 
As far as upgrades, I'm not working on anything new currently. I usually start working on new skills after season. I'm just trying to stay safe with the skills I'm currently competing.

This routine won Anna the balance beam title at the 2014 Nastia Liukin Cup!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dear Gymternet - Journals from Elena Arenas (Entry #9 February 2015)

Dear Gymternet, 

This month has been the best! I competed some new skills at a local meet and I won the WOGA Classic International session! 

At the local meet I competed a Maloney on bars and a piked full-in on floor for the first time. It wasn't an elite meet, but it was good for me to get more experience competing new skills and feeling pressure. I hit 4 for 4 and stuck my vault and dismount off bars. It was actually my first time getting a 38 with JO scoring. I also got to compete with about 25 of my teammates because it was a level 9/10/open session. I had so much fun being with all them! 

The WOGA Classic was a great meet for me! My goal was to hit all four events and I was so happy when I did! Then I was really excited when I found out that I won! It was kind of funny because I found a penny on heads in our rental car when I first got in and I said it was going to be my lucky penny. I felt very confident heading into this meet because I had been really consistent in training. I was looking forward to competing against the other countries which were China, Japan, Wales, Mexico, Russia, Netherlands, and Canada. Wales and Mexico were grouped with me along with Morgan Hurd and Aria Brusch. I started on beam, which is my favorite rotation order. I was 6th up on beam, so I did a lot of skills on the floor to keep warm. By the time it was my turn- I was the only one going! I hit a great beam routine and got a 14.150! I was so excited because it was my first 14! Next was floor and warm up went great. I saluted and got on the floor. The music started playing but it wasn't my music. That had never happened to me before! I didn't really know what to do, so I stepped off the floor and saluted again. The right music played the second time and I did a pretty good floor routine. I got a 13.600, but I think I could have done better because my piked full-in landed a little low. Vault was next and it felt really strong, I got a 14.300. Bars was my last event and my warm up was a little shaky. I was last up in the whole meet and it felt like I had to wait forever. I was the only one going and I knew that I could win if I hit an awesome routine. I did the best routine that I have ever done and got a 13.900! I was so thrilled! Nastia Liukin, Simone Biles, Madison Kocian, and Rebecca Bross were handing out awards, which was awesome! I placed in the top 3 on everything except floor and I got a really cool trophy for winning the all-around. 

After the meet we celebrated my little sister's birthday. Last year she spent it in Ohio for the Buckeye Qualifier. My parents decorated our hotel room Frozen-themed and she loved it! She said for her birthday all she wanted was to throw a quarter in the fountain at our hotel haha! Luckily we have family in Texas (only 10 minutes from our hotel) so we were able to spend a lot of time with them during the whole weekend and they were there to celebrate her birthday and make it really special! 

Elena with her cousins

Throughout the trip, I read the Maze Runner. My parents started getting annoyed because I would not stop reading! It was such a good book though! I finished it before we left and my mom said we could rent the movie when we got home. I was really excited, but then it wouldn't load. I stayed up for like 2 1/2 hours waiting for it to load! I got about 1/4 of the way through and the screen said it would be ready to play in 14 hours! I waited a little bit and it kept dropping an hour every minute. When it got to 4 hours, it went back up to 14. Ugh! I finally gave up and went to bed, but we watched it the next day! 

The only thing that I have coming up next month is developmental camp which is March 13th. I've learned a lot of new skills and I can't wait to show them off! 


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Quick Chat with Maile O'Keefe

Maile O'Keefe is a junior international elite from Las Vegas, Nevada who is entering her third year at the elite level. She trains for 30-40 hours a week under Sorin and Tammy Salcianu  at Salcianu Elite- The Academy of Gymnastics & Dance. Last year Maile finished sixth all around and second on floor at the Secret Classic and thirteenth all around at the P&G Championships. Her strong performance during the competition season and throughout the monthly developmental camps earned her one of two spots to represent the United States at the Pan American Gymnastics Union Camp last November. Most recently, at the WOGA Classic, Maile finished fourth all around in the junior division. While Maile won't become a senior until 2018, she shows a lot of promise for the future. We caught up with Maile to talk about upgrades/goals for this season and more!

Photo Credit: USA Gymnastics

How did you get started in gymnastics? 
Well, when I was little, my cousin was a gymnast and he was teaching me cartwheels and that kind of stuff in my backyard. So my Aunt got me a one month free trial for Christmas!

Who is your gymnastics idol? 
Alicia Sacramone because when she falls, she gets back up and tries again.

What has been your proudest moment thus far in your career? 
Winning sixth place all-around at the 2014 Secret Classic.

You're currently the only elite gymnast in Nevada, how does that feel?
It's pretty cool knowing that you're a "one of a kind" in your state.

What has been the coolest thing you've got to experience since becoming an elite? 
Probably meeting Simone Biles! I met her at the 2014 Secret Classic and I was thinking 'dang, this girl is really short and funny!'

What do you like to do when you're not in the gym?
When I'm not in the gym I like to hang out with my friends and do my nails.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be a physical therapist because I think the body is really interesting.

Are you working on any upgrades for this season? 
A double pike off beam. (Maile is also working a double layout off bars.)

What are your goals for this season?
My goal for this season is to do my best and hopefully place top six at P&G's.

What is your long term goal? 
My long term goal is to make it to the 2020 Olympics!

What is the best piece of advice you've been given? 
That it doesn't matter how hard you get knocked down,  it's how hard you get knocked down and still keep going.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Look Inside: University of Michigan Gymnastics

On Wednesday, January 28th, we visited the University of Michigan and got an inside look at how one of the top teams in the country trains in preparation for defending their conference title and making a Super Six appearance.

Michigan is currently ranked fifth in the nation and in the top ten on every event. They are also the only team in the nation to have three gymnasts ranked in the top thirteen in the all around.

We would like to thank Brad Rudner, Bev Plocki and the Michigan Women's Gymnastics team for welcoming us into their gym. Good luck with the rest of the season and go blue! 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Dear Gymternet- Journals from Elena Arenas (Entry #8 January 2015)

Dear Gymternet,

The month of January has been great!  I had my first competition and my first developmental camp of 2015.  

My first competition was a local meet in the Atlanta area.  This was a great opportunity for me to compete some new skills and combinations, so I was excited!  My first event was bars and I did the toe full pak combination for the first time in a meet and I made it.  Then I went to beam and competed a bunch of new skills which were handspring handspring two foot layout two foot, front tuck, switch leap switch half combination and double pike dismount.  I added these new skills plus my old ones from last year and I hit.  I was really happy with beam!!! Next was floor and I competed my brand new floor routine.  Antonia Markova choreographed it and I really like it!  I ended on vault and stuck a yurchenko full and finished the meet strong.  

At developmental camp I had to verify routines and I finished 1st in the all around!  I had prepared really well for this camp and felt very confident going into the verification days.  On floor I successfully verified all four passes on competition surface, including my piked full in. I was very happy with how floor went and couldn't wait for the other events! Next was vault and I did a yurchenko full. I was planning on doing a double full but my warm up was a little off so I decided that it would be safer to do a full. Beam was next and I did great! I didn't wobble on anything except a little bit on my switch half. I verified all my new skills and was very excited about my performance. On bars I did great! I felt like I could've added a couple of new skills, but we decided to go with a clean routine that we were confident that I would hit. I've been working on my shaposh, ray, and inside stalder which hopefully I'll add at least one or two of these in my routine by the elite season. Overall it was a great camp and I always have a bunch of fun with my roommates and friends during our time that we are not training! I also got some USA Under Armour apparel at camp. All of the girls got a shirt and tights. It was such a cool surprise and we loved the clothes!

My next big thing is the WOGA classic on February 14th. I am competing in the elite international session, so I'm going to prepare really well for that and can't wait to compete against other countries.

~ Elena

Sunday, January 11, 2015

10 Things You Don't Know About...Victoria Nguyen

Photo Credit: Gymnastike

1. My favorite color is blue.
2. I'm the middle child in my family.
3. My birthday is this month! (The 21st!)
4. My favorite food is seafood, especially lobster!
5. I like to do indoor rock climbing. 
6. I have six siblings.
7. I'm 4'5"
8. I'm 100% Vietnamese.
9. I started gymnastics when I was eight. 
10. I like to paint my nails too! 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Interview with Plum Practicewear

Plum Practicewear is taking the gymnastics world by storm! What started out as a small leotard company in New Jersey has turned into one of the hottest leotard companies for gymnasts all around the country. Made popular in the gymnastics world with the help of the elite trio at MG Elite, Plum leos are known for being super cute, comfortable, and affordable! What more could a gymnast ask for? Nicole Midura, the Vice President of sales and marketing at Plum Practicewear, gave us the inside scoop on how Plum leos are created and the upcoming line.

Can you tell us how Plum Practicewear got started? 
We started out as a group of friends with an idea. We wanted to make fun, funky leos...leos that got your attention. We also knew from experience that gymnastics is an expensive sport. We thought we could make at least one aspect of it a little easier on the parents' pockets. We soon came to realize that there was another very important aspect that we wanted to address- comfort! Some of these gymnasts are living in their leos, [training] five plus hours at a time, eight hours total per day.We design our leos with the gymnasts who wear them in mind. I feel personally connected to every gymnast who wears a Plum. I do think of them all as part of our family...they're my girls! 

Can you explain the design process? 
The cut we keep super simple to maximize the comfort. [It's a] standard tank with very few seams, and the seams we have are super soft. Most of our fabrics are silky smooth...although we do add a bit of sparkle here and there. As for the patterns, we keep our thumb on the pulse of the every day gymnasts. Plus, I think I'm also more or less a large child! We've got a great focus group of gymnasts and we hand pick every single fabric that we use. We are currently designing our very own custom fabric which we will be debuting very shortly! Everything we manufacture is produced on the east coast. Staying local and supporting our great nation is something that is near and dear to our hearts. 

You have a very close relationship with the girls at MG Elite. Can you talk about how you began working with them?
Those girls...I just love those girls! We were at a live sale about three years ago and along comes this gorgeous young lady and her mom. The mom stops and asks if she wanted a leo and this girl just lit up. She picked one out and dashed off to try it on. When she came back I just knew. The moment I saw her face I knew she was our girl! The young lady was Laurie Hernandez and the rest is Plum history. Once she started wearing Plum, it trickled out to her teammates. Once they saw them and heard about how comfortable they were, they were interested. [Then when] they wore them, they were hooked. Now more MG girls wear Plum than don't on any given day. 

We recently brought Jazzy and Ari in our photo shoots and that has been stellar. They are just the most humble, sweet, funny, and down to earth girls that ever rocked a gym. Maggie [Haney] and Vicki [Levine] have been so amazingly warm and welcoming. I'm in there shooting the girls a lot. I practically live there! [They are] just a fabulous team from top to bottom. 

Out of all the leotards you have created, which one is your favorite? 
Man! That's a really tough one. I had been wanting to make a mustache printed leo for a really long time, so when we saw that fabric I was totally over the moon! The red binding on it just sealed the deal. I really love that one. I love the unexpected and unconventional leos the most, for sure.

What makes Plum leos different then the other top leotard brands? 
We've got this whole "limited edition" model going that I really love. We have such a great time paying with fabrics and color that we don't want to get stuck on any one thing. We make a certain amount of each leo in each size and once they are gone they are gone! We've only made an exception to this once... with the last run. We sold out so fast! We couldn't leave all those girls out in the cold like that, so we broke our rule and restocked...just this once. Honestly, we just want to make gymnasts feel confident and happy. When they send us pics in their Plum with those big grins on their faces, hitting some fierce pose or getting a new skill for the first time (#luckyleo) that really reminds us why we love what we do.

Plum Practicewear has really grown over the last year and is now worn by many of the top gymnasts in the country. Can you talk a little about that? 
Along with the MG elite girls, we've also developed a really great relationship with the super cute, super talented, up and coming  Olivia Dunne and her coaches Craig and Jenn at ENA Paramus. Talk about fantastic people!

Plums are worn at every National Team Camp and also at every Developmental Camp. That has really helped spread the word! Without name dropping, I'll just say that some very high profile elite and junior elite gymnasts practice in Plum! Every time another elite reaches out to us I am floored. When I see some of the names coming through on the orders, it's hard not to fangirl, if I'm being totally honest. I can tell you that we've got both junior and senior girls practicing in Plum. So many elites...it seems like every day another easily recognizable name places and order or is reaching out via Instagram or Facebook. The love and support we've been getting from the elite community has been overwhelming.

What is next for Plum Practicewear? Do you have a new line in the works? 
We always have a new line in the works! We never stop thinking, planning, and hunting for the next thing. We are currently in production on our mid winter line, due out in February. It will include our very first Signature collection! We've come up with a few fabric designs of our own and we are just so excited about them. We do have some shorts and shirts in our near future as well...we heard you, girls!

For more information or to order your Plum leotard visit www.plumpracticewear.com/