March 9, 2012
By Amanda Pflugrad, Special to TheSunDevils.com
After two back-to-back away meets against UCLA and Washington the 23rd-ranked ASU women’s gymnastics team returns home. The gymnasts will face 11th-ranked Stanford at 7 p.m. MT tonight inside Wells Fargo Arena. The competition will mark the Sun Devils last home meet of the season and will honor all of the senior Devils. This competition is a combined meet for ASU women’s and men’s gymnastics, the men’s opponent is Air Force Academy currently ranked 11th in the nation.
At practice on Thursday, the seniors spoke about their feelings about their last home meet and what they will take away from the program.
Fifth-year senior Beaté Jones reminisced on the season.
“My favorite memory here at ASU was beating U of A this year,” said Jones. “We hadn’t beaten them my entire career here at ASU. To be a part of that and know I helped me team is something I will always remember.”
Madison Snowden who had a very trying year with injuries believed her time here at ASU developed her into the person she is today. Snowden wants to continue being involved with gymnasts through coaching.
“Gymnastics has really developed me into the person I want to be,” said Snowden. “I’ve had a rough season but it hasn’t taken my passion away from the sport. Besides, I’d rather have a coach who has been through it all and experience it all. I want to continue coaching and after everything that I’ve been through I am going to utilize those experiences to connect and relate to my athletes.”
Freshman Natelle Gentile may have a different connection with the seniors than some of the other gymnasts, being that she has known all of them longer than one year. Natelle’s sister Skye Gentile was a gymnast at ASU from 2007-2010 and introduced her sister to her future teammates.
Gentile explained the motivation going into this meet stating, “There is more drive for a win because it’s the seniors last home meet. I’ve learned that when I compete it is not just about me, it is about the team and I want to do even better for our seniors.”
All good things must come to an end and the senior meet is not only an emotional time not only for the gymnasts but also for the coaches, particularly John Spini. It is adamant that Spini’s feelings run deep for the love of his athletes.
“My team is a very special team and I am very proud of them,” said Spini. “If we come in and put it all on the floor and know that we’ve done our best both as athletes and coaches then we have to be fulfilled. My message to my gymnasts when they take the floor is beliefs become reality. Believe in themselves, believe in their team and compete with their heart.”