Gymnasts develop relationships as team, family


Iowa State’s beam competitors prepare themselves before the event during the NCAA Regionals on Saturday at Hilton Coliseum. Iowa State placed fifth.

Brittany Mease

ISU gymnastics is known for its high energy meets, but what happens out of the spotlight to make it happen? It’s more than just routines for the Cyclones, it’s about creating a bond between one another that continues outside of the gym.

“They get along extremely well, especially for a group of sixteen young ladies who are around each other all the time,” said ISU coach Jay Ronayne.

Though they spend hours a day practicing with each other, the gymnasts spend much of their free time together as well. From team dinners to getting manicures and pedicures, the girls are hardly apart.

“We hang out all the time,” said freshman Haylee Young. “Honestly, any time we’re together is fun. There’s not really anything that bonds us more because we’re already so close and we click well together.”

This closeness is the result of the culture that the ISU program strives for. After each performance, the team rushes to support their teammate, regardless if it was a perfect routine or if it had its faults. This support is something each member feeds off and the confidence the team radiates impacts each routine.

“That’s the culture we try to foster,” Ronayne said. “Nobody messes up on purpose, they’re all in the same thing and everyone has the same goals and I know they completely understand that, so they treat it that way. Everyone wants what’s best for the team, so if someone does poorly then they’re very supportive, but they’re encouraged to challenge each other to be better than what they currently are.”

Despite the individual nature of gymnastics, a team relationship is a key component in a successful meet. Without the pressure to do well for the team, as well as the support of the girls behind them, gymnastics would be a much more difficult sport for Iowa State.

“When you know that you have the support of other girls, who knows what you’re capable of?” said junior Sammie Pearsall. “It really helps when you’re struggling and in times of doubt because [you can’t] always just rely on yourself, you have to be able to rely on others for support and get you through the tough times because you’re not always going to be doing perfect routines.”

And when spectators watch the Cyclones compete at Hilton, they’re not just watching a group of teammates compete — they’re watching a family. 

“I describe [their relationship] like sisters,” Ronayne said. “There are times where sisters battle it out, but they love each other.”