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/

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Our favorite posts from 2014!

Listed below are some of our favorite blog posts from this year. You can click each title for a link to the article! Thanks for all the support this year, we hope you will continue to follow us as we have lots of exciting stuff planned for the future. Have a happy new year!

Carly Patterson Interview
This was our first interview of the new year and we couldn't be more pleased with how it turned out! Carly was very candid with us about her experience at the Olympics and her rivalry with Russian favorite Svetlana Khorkina. Carly has always had a bubbly personality and a great sense of humor, which I think is evident, even in writing! Our favorite part of the interview was when she talked about her first experience at the ranch and being "initiated" by the other national team members. I was glad she shared that little tidbit with us, because I had never heard of anything like that until then!

Emily Wong - Leader and Champion
This feature was really special to us because we wanted to show our readers how strong of a person Emily truly is. Just a few months before the interview took place, Emily's father passed away. Despite mourning his loss (and competing every weekend during her senior year at Nebraska) Emily took the time out of her busy schedule to talk with us. I thought that was very nice of her! Emily Wong's leadership and maturity left us inspired. Emily was an exceptional gymnast with a big heart and even bigger smile! We hope this article left you loving her even more!

Nastia Liukin Interview
We were very excited when Nastia agreed to do this interview with us! As we all know, she's a very busy women, so for her to take time out of her day to answer our questions meant a lot! The main focus of this interview was her experience at the Olympics and life after. I'm glad we we're able to go into depth about the highs and lows of her entire Olympic experience,

Simone Biles Skype Interview
This was by far the most fun interview we have ever done! Despite having technical difficulties (our power kept going out and ending the Skype call!) we still managed to piece together a pretty decent interview with the reigning World Champ! (And for our first audio interview too!) Simone was super cool about having to repeat a few answers for us! We were a little stressed out because we weren't sure how much audio we were losing, but some how it all worked out just fine! It was so incredibly cool/crazy to interview her face to face. I kept thinking to myself "I can't believe this is really happening!" Simone was super bubbly and friendly and we we're so thankful for the time she spent with us.

Betty Okino Interivew
This has to be one of the most in-depth interviews we have ever done! Without having to be prompted (or pushed to give more details), Betty opened up to us about her coaches, rivalries, and the high and lows of her career. I almost felt like I was reading her autobiography, just because she gave so many little details and quotes to support her answers. Betty was so open and willing to share everything with us; this is every interviewer's dream and truly makes for an amazing article! We really couldn't have asked for a more perfect interview, thanks Betty!

You Know You're A Gymnast When
This feature was really fun for us! We got to ask some of the best level 10/elite gymnasts from around the world for a funny, but also very true, scenario for "you know you're a gymnast when..". I'm sure this is something that every gymnast can relate to, as they've probably done many of these things on the daily!

Vanessa Atler Interview
This was with out question the most popular interview we did all year. I'm so thankful that Vanessa was able to open up to us about the struggles she faced throughout her elite career. After reading her responses I felt inspired. I think it's amazing that she was able to admit to the mistakes she made and learn from it. Vanessa came out a stronger person and I feel like it sends a great message to anyone who's struggling, even if you're not a gymnast! I think it will be hard for any interview to top this one as my favorite!

Elena Arenas' Monthly Journals
Junior elite, Elena Arenas, has been kind enough to write a journal entry for us every month; documenting everything that happened in competition, training, and of course in her everyday life! This feature has been a favorite amongst our followers because it provides gym fans with an inside look at the life of an up and coming elite gymnast. Through her journal entries, we get to follow Elena though every step of her elite career (in her own words!) and hear all of her cool experiences. We hope this is a feature that we can continue as Elena trains for the 2020 Olympics!

Buckeye's Dynamic Duo Aim Towards Rio
This was probably one of our favorite story-type articles that we did this year. Usually we keep interviews in the "Q&A" format, but this time we decided to use the quotes from Kittia Carpenter and write an article about what it's like coaching two of the nation's top gymnasts. Kittia gave us an update on Gabby Douglas' training, as well as goals for both Gabby and Nia in the future.

Let us know what your favorite post was this year! Thanks again for all the support and we hope you will continue to read our site in the future.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dear Gymternet- Journals from Elena Arenas (Entry #7 December 2014)

Dear Gymternet,

This month has been very fun and exciting! I went to the Make it Right camp in Las Vegas and I had a great Christmas! 

Elena and Mailie O'Keefe in Vegas
The Make it Right camp was so much fun (on the plane to Las Vegas I watched If I Stay and almost cried on the plane!) Some of my teammates went to the camp too and some friends from developmental camp were there, so it was great to spend time with all of them. One of the rotations we had to do was trampoline, which is not my strongest thing! We had to do this thing called an airplane that I just could not figure out! Other than that though everything else went really well and I got a lot of training in with some amazing coaches! 

Elena and her teammates in Vegas
The first day we got to Las Vegas we did some sight seeing. My friend Lila, and I made a deal that if she rode on a roller coaster, then I had to go on a ferris wheel. Last year I rode the roller coaster which is on top of the hotel New York, New York, and it was so much fun, so I wanted her to experience it too ... but I was so scared to go on the ferris wheel because it is the biggest one in the world! (High Roller, 550 feet high!) Lila ended up riding the roller coaster and I rode the ferris wheel and I think we both enjoyed it! I also convinced my dad to ride the roller coaster and we rode in the very front! We also saw Zarkana, a cirque show! It was amazing!

After the camp I was excited to get home and celebrate Christmas with my family! A few days before Christmas I made a graham cracker house that I saw on a DIY account on Instagram. I had to cut the graham crackers and everything. I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but it ended up looking pretty good. On Christmas I got a lot of nail polish, a blue tooth Bose speaker that I can take to the ranch with me, and some drawing stuff. I also got a new coat and a gingerbread (not actually gingerbread) house for my dog, Brantley, that I had to make myself. It was edible and she loved it! 

~ Elena

Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014 Illinois Gymnastics Exhibition: Dancing and Debuts

December is an exciting time for college gymnastics fanatics, as it’s the finally time to see teams across the country debut their new, full routines to fans for the first time in exhibitions and intrasquads.

On December 8, the University of Illinois men’s and women’s gymnastics teams held their annual Orange and Blue Exhibition, arguably the most fun gymnastics meet held in Champaign’s Huff Hall. The men and women both split up into Team Orange and Team Blue to compete in head-to-head match-ups.

The Illini don’t determine the winner of the meet using traditional gymnastics scoring. A pair of student-athletes is assigned to judge each event. At the end of both gymnasts’ routines, each student-athlete holds up either a blue flag or an orange flag, denoting who he/she thinks had a better routine. In the event of a tie, the audience cheers to determine the winner.

While gymnastics is generally one of the more serious sports in the world of athletics, collegiate gymnastics definitely brings more fun to the table, and Illinois’ Orange and Blue Exhibition was no exception.

It was a close meet, as the Blue Team won 11-9, but there were several moments and things that stuck out.

Highlights and tidbits:

Freshmen boys impress: Several Illini gymnasts competed in the orange and blue for the first time. All freshmen from both the men’s and women’s teams competed. Half of the freshmen men were victorious in their match-ups. The youngest gymnast, Brandon Ngai, 16, a pommel horse specialist, competed an impressive pommel routine to beat fellow freshman Harry McLellan. Dennis Minton prevailed on rings to defeat junior Max Mayr, and Aussie native Tyson Bull showed high-flying release moves in his win over fellow international student Tom Gibbs.

Women’s debuts and returns: On the women’s side, Jordyn Givens returned from an arm injury suffered in her final J.O. season and competed on vault. Givens competed the same vault as her matchup and fellow Texan, redshirt freshman Sarah Lyons. Both vaults were clean and simple Yurchenko layouts, but Lyons was declared the winner.

The second freshman on the women’s team, Wisconsin native Bridget Hodan, also competed one event. But unlike Givens, Hodan was victorious. Hodan’s presence and excellence on beam were exquisite. Her routine includes an aerial to back handspring and a rare and difficult, but well-executed, illusion turn. The unique combinations and skills gave her an impressive triumph over beam and bars specialist Sunny Kato.

Senior captain Gaby Nguyen also returned to competing. She has yet to compete in a non-exhibition meet and was not in the lineup for last year’s exhibition, so it was great to finally see her show off her uneven bars skills.

New versus old: A new year means a new floor routine, at least for some of the Illini women. Two of the three floor matchups pitted a new routine versus an old routine.

The ladies first competed on floor at the end of the first rotation, ending with a bang. Sophomore and Big Ten Gymnast to Watch Mary Jane Horth finally returned to floor after her Achilles injury suffered in her final J.O. season in 2013. Her dramatic and classical floor music and choreography combined with her long lines proved to be victorious against senior Kelsi Eberly, who performed the same exercise from last season. Watching Horth tumble and perform after over a year was a sight to see. It will be exciting to see her routine again if she makes lineup, which shouldn’t be a problem.

The final floor matchup was between second team All-Big Ten members Giana O’Connor and Erin Buchanan. Buchanan’s routine is the same as last year’s while O’Connor revealed her new routine for her junior season. O’Connor’s unique and dramatic music is similar in style to what she used last year, complete with distinctive choreography to match, but what was most remarkable and was the highlight of her routine was her tumbling. O’Connor’s first tumbling pass was full of combinations and connections, like a less difficult, but still impressive, Aly Raisman beginning pass.

Battle of the blondes: In the second floor matchup, junior Heather Foley and senior Jordan Naleway both revealed their new routines. Foley’s music is a remix of Danza Kuduro by Don Omar, a Latin influenced song that would probably be found in a dance club, and another piece that pumps up the crowd. Danza Kuduro definitely makes the crowd want to get up and dance while the remainder is enticing with the beat. Foley had solid tumbling and a great performance, but Naleway came away with the victory.

Naleway’s senior floor routine begins with some bluesy/jazz-sounding music and transitions into a remix. The choreography was fitting, and the tumbling gave Naleway the win. Despite being spotted on her double pike ― it looked like she didn’t need it ― her landings were good and more controlled than Foley’s.

Horth upgrades on bars: Sophomore Mary Jane Horth debuted her new uneven bars routine in a matchup against senior and beam/bar specialist Sunny Kato. Horth’s height of 5’7” gives her lovely lines on this event, but that’s not the only thing to admire. This season’s routine includes a few new skills, including a full out dismount, a Gienger and a Maloney half. Horth defeated Kato in this bars matchup in a unanimous decision, as Kato uncharacteristically fell off the low bar during her transition.

All-around potential: While most of the women only competed on one or two apparatus during the exhibition, sophomore Erin Buchanan competed on three: uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise. Fellow sophomore Suren Kanchanavaleerat was scheduled to compete on bars against Gaby Nguyen, but a lineup change was made, and Buchanan replaced her. She hit both events and even won the bars matchup.

Last season, this Big Ten Gymnast to watch competed in all of the Illini’s meets on floor and vault, where she hit 100-percent of her routines. Buchanan was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week three times, the first time for an Illini women’s gymnast. With the addition of beam and bars, Buchanan has the potential to be a great all-around competitor. There’s no way of telling if she will compete all four events this season, but it’s certainly a promising option.

Men dance it out: The most fun and crowd-pleasing part of the meet came at the end, in the final rotation, when two of the Illini men started a mini dance party.

U.S. National Team Member and NCAA All-American C.J. Maestas kicked things off at the beginning of his rings routine. Maestas sported a black puffer vest while waiting to be assisted by assistant coach Ivan Ivankov. While Boyfriend by Justin Bieber filled the Huff Hall gymnasium, Maestas began to dance and removed his vest to reveal only a pink bow tie on the upper half of his torso. Cheers instantly erupted from the fans as he showed off for the crowd. Even with the addition of dance to his routine, Maestas hit a great rings routine in typical fashion. Watch Maestas’s routine below.

Later in the final rotation, former NCAA vault champion junior Fred Hartville amused the crowd with his imitation of Giana O’Connor. Hartville performed the beginning choreography of O’Connor’s floor routine across the floor from her. It was a funny moment, evoking laughter from all of the gymnasts and the audience. Hartville was spot on with the dance and did it as well as O’Connor! Unfortunately, there is no video of this hilarious moment.

Overall, the Illini are looking good. The men look to build on their fourth place finish at NCAAs this past season while the women look to build off last season, one that was full of record breaking and historic moments.

There are, of course, a few things that need to improve, but there’s still some time to work on those, and both programs look to progress throughout the season. Illinois may miss the graduated seniors from last season, especially Amber See, Liz McNabb and Sarah Fiedler on the women’s side, but there appears to be no problem filling their spots with up and coming stars in Buchanan and Horth who were both named Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch. Most of the women are veterans and have experienced competition on the big stage before, so they have a multitude of experience to bring and help them be even better than they were last year.

The women kick off their season at Central Michigan on January 11 while the men begin in Chicago at UIC on January 9. View full highlights from both the Illini men and women below.

All pictures belong to me and are watermarked, so please do not take them. Thank you.

Written by: Amanda

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Interview with Lisa Spini, coach of Mykayla Skinner

Can you start by talking about how Mykayla's season went overall? What were some of the ups and downs she faced throughout the year? 
We are all, of course, very happy with how MyKayla's season went. Being a member of the gold medal World Championship and Pan Am team is a dream come true for any gymnast. She did well in Jesolo, her 1st meet this season, winning the gold on vault and floor, and helping Team USA win the Team gold. Then we wound back down to prepare for Classics and Championships, with the goal to make the Pan Am and or World Team. She had a slow start at the Classic, but then got a little better in each following competition, culminating with the Pan Am team, all-around, vault and floor golds and of course Team USA's and her own amazing performance at World's.

How would you sum up Mykayla's experience at the World Championships this year? Do you feel she accomplished everything she set out to do? 
I can imagine that the only better feeling than winning the team gold at World Championships would be to win it at the Olympics! MyKayla and I both felt like the years of hard work and tough times had finally paid off. Yes, we accomplished what we set out to do, which was help the USA earn a team medal and win an individual medal, if possible. Not medaling on floor after doing such a great routine in floor finals was very hard on her, but the positive feedback that she received from all over the world and knowing that she had done her best really helped her through that.

Since coming home from the World Championships do you feel that Mykayla has more confidence? How has this effected her training, if at all? 
Worlds was a great confidence booster. Winning team gold, vault bronze, fourth on floor and sixth all-around in prelims, really helped her realize that she is currently among the best gymnasts in the world! In training, it has helped because not only is she more confident, but she is more focused on her form and flexibility--she realizes that's what she needs.

Photo belongs to Silvia Vatterroni

Has Mykayla been working any new upgrades in the gym that you can share?
We have been working a Cheng with an extra full twist on vault--so round-off 1/2 on, 2 1/2 off. She is doing it on mats in the pit, but still a little lower than competition height. We've also been working triple twisting Yurchenkos in the pit. On bars, she is training a new shaposh to pak combo, double double dismount and wyler 1/2. On beam she is training a punch front to jumps, tour jete 1/2, double turn and full in dismount. On floor she is hoping to put a 1 1/2 step out to triple in for her second pass and full in at the end. We are also playing with a tucked triple twisting double on the rod floor.

Which vault can fans expect to see in competition first? Both have been highly anticipated! 
I think that MyKayla will compete the Cheng with the added full turn before the triple twisting yurchenko because she is further along on it at this time. It should also have a higher start value than the triple twisting yurchenko because it's adding a full turn to a Cheng and the triple yurchenko is adding a 1/2 turn to an Amanar.

Mykayla is known for throwing lots of difficult skills in practice. Is she the one who comes up with the idea of trying a new skill or do you usually bring it up?
 MyKayla has always loved difficult skills. When she was younger, I used it as a reward for doing what I wanted her to do first- basics, flexibility, drills. Now that she is older, she still enjoys them and also appreciates that the time she spends on flexibility, basics and drills will help her be better at the skills she wants to do. Sometimes she comes up with the idea for a skill and sometimes I watch men's gymnastics and power tumbling for ideas for skills and how to teach them since there aren't women doing them yet.

What has been your biggest challenge with coaching Mykayla? 
MyKayla loves the big skills. Getting her to focus on form and flexibility has always been the challenge. In this past season, I saw her change quite a bit in that area--she was much more willing to work in those areas. After being at Worlds, and seeing the best gymnasts from all over the world, she is even more focused on improving her execution. Much of her execution errors are due to her lack of flexibility, but her tightness also makes her very quick and quickness and air-sense are two of her best attributes. She will never be a flexible gymnast, but her flexibility has definitely improved.

How do you keep Mykayla motivated day in and day out? Does she ever have days where she doesn't want to come to practice or wants to quit? 
I used to keep MyKayla motivated with skills, but now, she can see the big picture a little clearer and that motivates her. I just help her time it all out--we need to be doing this by this date, and then this by this date, etc., so that we can be ready for competitions and not be burned out or injured. Gymnasts of this level do need to have quite a bit of self-motivation. They have to love the process as much as the result, or they won't last long. I think every gymnast probably wants to quit at one time or another and MyKayla is no exception. The gymnasts that realize that it's just a phase or a response to something negative that happened to them and work through it are the ones that make it in the end.

With so many talented gymnasts moving into the senior ranks and lots of returning Olympians, how do you think Mykayla will fare this upcoming season?
As far as MyKayla's ability to compete with the new seniors and the returning Olympians, only time will tell. The results from Worlds and Pan Ams prove that she can compete with the best. Whatever gymnasts are healthy, have the skills, fitness level and the mental toughness at the right moment will fare the best.

Thus far, what has been your favorite coaching memory? 
 I would have to say that winning the team title at World Championships is my favorite memory! It was so amazing--the gymnasts, the coaches and the moment! The girls and coaches all got along so well. We all worked as one for that result and when it finally happened, it was the most awesome feeling! I don't think I would change anything. In my 35 years of coaching gymnastics, I have worked with gymnasts of every level and every ability. I've loved almost every second of it--from pre-schoolers to World Champions!

Photo belongs to Aimee Boorman

Do you have any mentors or people you try and model your coaching style after? 
One of my first and best mentors was Roe Kreutzer, who was the 1984 Olympic coach and worked for USA Gymnastics for many years. I worked for her at The Arizona Twisters, one of the USA's first elite programs, for 15 years before opening Desert Lights. She is a wonderful coach and person and without her, I could never have coached at this level. My husband, John Spini, who was the coach at Arizona State University for 34 years, taught me so much about spotting, tumbling and bars. Of course, I am with some of the best coaches in the world every month at National Team Camp. Everyone there has something to offer. It's like being at the best coaching clinic in the world!

Finally what your goals in the future, both for Mykayla and for your future coaching career?
MyKayla has signed with Utah, but has deferred college for her first year to train for the 2016 Olympics. For the immediate future, we are looking ahead to the upcoming elite season, trying to get in a few upgrades, while improving flexibility and form, and of course, staying healthy is probably one of the most important things! If a chance at another World's or even the Olympics presents itself, that would be amazing, but we're just taking one thing at a time right now. As far as the future for me, I have a gym full of talented gymnasts and coaching all of them, as well as MyKayla, is still my passion. 

Photo belongs to Christy Linder

Thank you for your time Lisa. We wish you and Mykayla all the best!