Sammie Pearsall heads into senior year looking to continue success as student-athlete


Junior Sammie Pearsall competes on the beam during the NCAA Regionals on Saturday at Hilton Coliseum.

Brittany Mease

For ISU gymnast Sammie Pearsall, the beam isn’t the only thing she has to balance at Iowa State. As a student-athlete, Pearsall dedicates herself in the gym and the classroom.

Pearsall has had a successful three years, with her most recent achievement being recognized by Iowa State as the member of the ISU gymnastics team with the highest GPA (4.0). She has also succeeded in this past season’s meets. Pearsall was named the Big 12’s Event Specialist of the Week for her balance beam performance on Jan. 20 at the Beauty and the Beast meet at Hilton Coliseum.

With a 9.950 on the balance beam, Pearsall tied the individual school balance beam record. Not only did her score tie an individual record, but it also helped the Cyclones earn a team score of 49.425. This score tied for third highest score in school history, according the Big 12’s website.

How does a successful athlete like Pearsall manage to balance the extensive hours of practice combined with the numerous hours of school work? She reminds herself to take a break from the busy life of a student-athlete.

“We could be working from 5:30 in the morning until 11 or 12 at night which can run you down pretty quick,” said Pearsall, “It becomes monumental to not take for granted those 10 minutes you have to sit down and recharge before practice. Little breaks make the world of a difference and help you remember that you truly do enjoy this hectic lifestyle.”

Although being a student-athlete can become hectic, Pearsall’s key to successfully balancing her time between practice and school is simple: prioritizing. With all that the gymnasts and other athlete’s do, it’s hard to get everything done. Therefore, they have to decide what gets done when.

“When you are working with as little time as D-I athletes get, sometimes you simply cannot get everything done,” said Pearsall, “However, what you get done you do well. And what you don’t get done you don’t stress about. It’s all a balancing act.”

By balancing her academics, the stress of the life of a student athlete becomes easier to focus on in the gym. Pearsall has earned high career scores in her previous seasons, proving her success. With a score of 9.750 on the uneven bars (2-8-15), a 9.950 on the balance beam (1-20-15), and 9.750 (2x career high); with her scores continually rising each season, Pearsall’s senior season scores will potentially come to new highs.

Not only will Pearsall have her work cut out in her events, but she and her fellow classmates, have to step up to become leaders of the ISU gymnastics team. Caitlin Brown, the only senior of the 2014-2015 season, leaves big shoes to fill.

“Caitlin made sure people understood their impact on the team,” said Pearsall, “My junior class will take this and run with it. A team can either be a well-run machine more powerful than any individual or it can be destructive and degrade on everyone. If we can work to get everyone on the same page from pre-season through season I think that’s when we’ll see the magic happen.”

Pearsall has hopes of finishing her senior season by achieving great things as an individual and as a team. It’s Pearsall’s goal, as well as the team’s, to reach the NCAA Gymnastics Nationals, but her individual goals are not solely focused on scores or post-season success.

“I’m hoping to reach this moment where I fully understand and appreciate what this sport has done for me,” said Pearsall, “We often take for granted this amazing gift we all have been given to be able to compete at such a high level and when you’re reaching the end of this journey it begins to become quite clear.”

Her time at Iowa State has been filled with many academic and athletic achievements, but Pearsall is not one to forget where it all began. Her recollection of her first competition shows just how truly passionate she was about being a part of the ISU gymnastics team.

“Without a doubt my favorite memory was the first beam routine I competed in Hilton Coliseum as a freshman,” said Pearsall, “It is so vivid in my mind because the entire time I remembered thinking how insane it was that I was competing in front of a Cyclone crowd. People who had no idea who I was, were cheering me on. I was so wrapped up in the excitement of it all I almost fell off the beam doing some dance before my dismount. I loved it because during that routine I was living and breathing in the moment. I wasn’t worried about anything, I was just giddy about the new experience and how I had 4 whole years left of it.”