While doing my portfolio for my journalism class, I decided I wanted to write an article about the Illinois women’s gymnastics team making it to Nationals for the third time in the program’s history. I thought it would be great if I could get quotes for the interview, so I interviewed my favorite Illini gymnast, Alina Weinstein. Since this article was only being written for my final portfolio, and not the actual school paper, I thought it would be awesome to put these answers in a blog post so people who love gymnastics, and not just my journalism teacher, would be able to read Alina’s answers.
|Photo Credit: FightingIllini.com|
At regionals, what were your thoughts on ending the competition on beam while Nebraska, who you were competing with for the second spot, was ending on vault?
It's a funny thing because I knew that we were going to be able to do it. The past two times we went to nationals it was because we had such an impressive showing ending on our last event which was beam. So I was confident in the fact that we would do it again.
When you went anchored beam at regionals, what were your feelings since it could have been your last routine in an Illini leo?
I didn't think that there was any way Nebraska could come back. Call it foolish but at that moment I was just completely confident that we would pull through. There were times where going into that meet I considered that it might be my last routine but once we got going it just wasn't going to happen that way.
At regionals, you won three titles and the Regional Gymnast of the Year award. How did it feel to end the meet with several accomplishments?
Honestly those accomplishments in the grand scheme of things were just bonus. I promised to set the standards high and take my team back to nationals and that was the driving force that propelled me to do my absolute best for the team.
Describe your Nationals experience this year in one word.
Emotional. It was such an amazing experience to be there again. [It] didn't go out the way I had planned but I guess [it never] really does. But I have comfort in the fact that I took my team there and I showed the [underclassmen] what it was like and I am proud to continue the Illinois tradition that was once placed on me.
You've once said that you wanted to join Cirque. What are your plans after graduation?
I am sure that I want to be a college coach and stay in this world. So that's what I will be working on now.
The Illinois gymnastics program is obviously one of the up and coming collegiate programs in the nation. What do the Illini need to do in the future to be even more successful and make the Super Six?
The Illini can continue to improve their status in the NCAA by believing in themselves. Their potential and talent is incredible but they need to continue to push the envelope and continue to improve their consistency and small detail work. Their talent is what sets them apart from other teams and as soon as the Illini can really realize and take advantage of this then they will really take off.
At Nationals, you had an uncharacteristic fall on beam. What were your thoughts during that time? What occurred for you to bounce back from your fall and score a 9.9 on floor to tie for first and make event finals?
It was really hard. I hadn't fallen on a beam routine since nationals in 2010 so it had been almost two years. It was really upsetting and at my last meet at nationals that's not how you want to you want your experience to be. At that point I was an emotional wreck and I have never cried at a meet before because I was upset and it really took a lot for me to be able to go out there and do one last routine. I guess it was fate that I saw my athletic director in the hallway who was there by chance and he told me that he was proud of me as my head coach really helped me in the moment as well.
|Photo Credit: Erin Long|
Although the team's score at Nationals was below the season high of 196.475, the team scored a 195.700 to earn the highest score the women's program at Illinois has ever produced at the National Championships. You and the rest of the team have continually made history throughout the season, so how did it feel to end the season making history as a team?
At that moment I didn't know what our score was or what we had done as a team. I was just happy - it took a lot for us to get there and it took a lot of convincing and believing in ourselves. It's a lot harder as an underdog to accomplish the feats that people don't expect and I'm grateful for the ability to take advantage of an amazing opportunity - the one that we had at regionals. That was the moment that I will remember for the rest of my life and I'm happy for having that memory.
What will you miss most about gymnastics?
What I will miss most is the rush of doing something to the best of your ability and being able to share that special moment with the people you care about. The emotions that you feel at meets are incredible and that is what I will always remember and miss the most.
Throughout your entire gymnastics career, what do you wish you would have done differently?
I think every experience whether good or bad has taught me something and has shaped me into the athlete that I was. I don't think I would have changed anything - I am grateful for the career I have had.
The Pro Gym Challenge is unlike any other competition. Why did you decide to participate in it?
I wanted to enter the Pro Challenge because it was one last chance for me to do gymnastics and compete again. It was also an opportunity to meet some amazing people and be able to do skills I haven't done in years and just have some fun with it.
|Team USA! Photo Credit: Pro Gym Challenge|
How did training for the PGC differ from training for a normal meet?
Training for PGC was different because I worked on all the skills I had done in my career that I wasn't able to put into routines. It was a lot of fun because I love playing around with skills and I am definitely a daredevil so that's a lot of fun for me.
What was the best part of the PGC?
The best part of PGC was meeting new people and working out with people from around the world. It was like an adult gymnastics camp which was awesome.
I would like to thank Alina for allowing me to interview her despite her busy schedule. I appreciate it very much. Congrats to Alina for graduating and on the season!
Interview done by: Amanda