Huskies make the awe-inspiring routine

By Matt Hopkinson

Although all athletes make it look easy, gymnasts use hard work and sacrifice to create an aesthetically pleasing spectacle.

“Gymnastics is an art, and a lot of us become perfectionists,” said NIU senior gymnast Tanya Rachan. “We not only have to be strong, but we have to be flexible.”

As a spectator, a gymnastics routine can appear like artwork, but to the eye of a gymnast, they see only the hard work, hits and mistakes.

“I think I’ll always view it as a gymnast,” Rachan said. “I know my own routine and everyone else’s, too. I know when they did something awesome, and I also know when they made a mistake.”

This opinion isn’t shared by every single roster member, however.

“I view it more from a friend’s perspective,” said NIU senior gymnast Shonda Clore. “I spend every day in the gym and see where they improve and become even more proud of them than a normal fan because I see the progression every day.”

The amount of times a gymnast performs a given routine makes the act of performing it second nature.

“The routines we’re performing now we started practicing in October and November,” Rachan said. “We really don’t have an offseason. We practice routines about 10 times a week leading up to a meet.”

Even as a coach, the line is blurred between looking at it technically and appreciating the way it looks.

“I am a fan; I enjoy the visual aspect of a routine,” said NIU gymnastics coach Sam Morreale. “It needs to be visually appealing. A routine itself has peaks and valleys. There is a mixture of big skill, moves and dance. The music needs to draw the viewer in.”

Morreale mentioned that due to college rules, gymnasts are only allowed to practice four hours a day, which increases the amount of necessary work going into practice.

“When I am in practice, I’m having a good time,” Rachan said. “You happen to have a lot more fun when you’re doing well and when you’re getting your assignments done.”

Clore said through all the work, there’s a payoff at the end.

“It’s like any masterpiece: it takes time, effort and careful work to make it perfect,” Clore said.