NIU tumblers bypass traditional beginnings

By Laura Higgins

While most of NIU’s athletes are recruited out of high school, the Huskie women’s gymnastics team is comprised mostly of club participants.

The majority of NIU’s tumblers bypassed their high school teams and instead opted to compete on a national level in club gymnastics.

And moving from an individual-oriented program such as club gymnastics to a team-oriented sport here at NIU has meant changes for some of coach Bobbie Cesarek’s tumblers.

“In club your goal is to try and make the national team,” junior tumbler Vickie Thimgan (Nebraska School of Gymnastics) said. “You’re training for yourself and whether or not your teammates make it, it’s nice, but it’s not necessarily a goal.

“Here, our main goal is for the whole team to make it into postseason competition. Teammates push you more in college than in club, and they’re a lot more supportive of you. They know when you’ve had a bad day and need that extra support in the gym.”

Thimgan admitted to taking out a few really difficult skills in her routine and instituting easier ones that score more points in the long run. But according to Cesarek, the changes are all for the best of the team.

“As far as when it comes time to compete, it means maybe having to give of themselves a little bit more for the sake of the team,” Cesarek said. “A routine might have to be less difficult in order to hit consistently and contribute more points to the total team score. But, it’s a matter of what we’re going to do for the very best of the team.”

And Huskie tumbler Cheryl Kurowski (American Academy, Wheeling) agrees.

“In order to up the team you have to up yourself as an individual competitor—be it adding something or dropping something from your routines,” she said.

“You have to get more bonus in your individual routines and you work in order to help the team score as many points as possible. In club it was much more of what you were going to do for yourself.”