April 24, 2012
The University of Kentucky gymnastics team recently completed a very successful first year under new head coach Tim Garrison. After a slow start, Garrison and Co. hit their stride midway through the season, earning some high scores. The success began with back-to-back victories over top-25 teams when UK took down Southeastern Conference foe Auburn at home and highly ranked Illinois on the road. The next week, the Wildcats would earn their best score of the season, posting only the 10th score of 196 or higher in school history with a196.025 against George Washington and Ball State. UK completed the regular season the next week, posting a 195.875 in a win at Centenary, sealing the first winning regular season for UK since 2008. The high score at Centenary also concluded the most successful month in program history as UK posted scores of 195.875 or higher in three consecutive meets for the first time ever.
The Wildcats had several other accomplishments throughout the season, including entering the NCAA Regionals with the second-highest RQS in school history. The high RQS helped UK earn a berth into the NCAA Regionals for the 24th time in school history. UK would finish fifth at the event with a score of 194.750, which led to a top 25 final ranking for the third consecutive season. UK also competed well at the SEC Championships in Duluth, Ga., finishing in fifth, which tied the best finish in school history.
Below is a season ending letter from Garrison, detailing the approach the staff took at the beginning of the season and how pleased he is with the direction the program is headed.
Garrison's Season Recap Letter
Big Blue Nation,
Since the 2012 season is officially in the books, the time has come to reflect and evaluate. Many thoughts have gone through my mind since our season ended. First, let me say that I am extremely proud of this team. They trained and competed hard and I believe they have laid a solid foundation for UK gymnastics. A foundation, by definition, is the supporting layer of a structure. Looking back on this season, I feel we have that. Now we need to move forward and build our structure.
Let's look back at the season.
Was our training plan a good one?
I believe it was. We will make a few minor changes for next year, but overall I believe the plan was effective. We had a decision to make early in the preseason that would ultimately determine our approach to training for this season and beyond. Should we jump right in and change routines and teach the elements that would add immediate difficulty to our routines, but decrease consistency early in the season? Or, should we focus on cleaning up the routines we already had knowing that we would likely be more consistent, but it would take longer to get the composition that we need to be competitive in this conference?
We chose to go with the more aggressive of the two. We changed routines and taught skills. As expected, we struggled a bit with consistency early in the season, but as the year progressed, so did we. The athletes gained confidence and consistency with the new skills and routines they were competing.
Did the new staff work well together?
Absolutely! One of the things I am most happy with is our staff chemistry. We each have our own strengths from the many years we spent coaching in the club level. Now those strengths are combined on one staff and it is proving to be a very cooperative and productive atmosphere in the gym as a result.
We talked quite a bit about changing the culture of the team. Did that happen?
I believe it did. In what seems to be the age of entitlement, our goal was to develop a culture where our athletes appreciated the fact that they had the opportunity to represent the University of Kentucky. I want them to realize how fortunate they are to be here and that they have a responsibility to this university in return. Of course they need to be hardworking and successful athletically, but there's much more. They are here to get an education. They need to put in the work to achieve academic excellence throughout their career. I also expect them to be responsible socially. In a time where one can Tweet or Facebook themselves into a great deal of trouble very quickly, they need to be aware and act appropriately. I am pleased at how this team adopted this culture and expected great things from themselves. I also think they will be influential mentors to the athletes we welcome to this program in the future.
This being my first year, I was not familiar with what support we could expect from the athletic department. As pleasant surprises go, this was a great one. Administrative support, facilities, marketing and media services all surpassed my expectations. Those that worked closely with our program on a daily basis were completely committed to our cause and deserve a great deal of thanks. This season would not have been nearly as successful or enjoyable without their efforts.
Brandon Desantis -Trainer
Courtney Ehrler- Manager
Caitlyn Satkowiak - Manager
Evan Crane - Sports Information Director
Mike Haley - Academic Advisor
Alyx Ayer - Marketing
Jamie Legate - Event Manager
Jamie Moberly - Event Management
Heather McAtee - Administration
Kristy Garrett - Staff Support
Ryan DeVriendt - Strength and Conditioning
Once again the fan support has placed our attendance record in the top 13th nationally. We appreciate all of you that came out to our home events and supported your Wildcat gymnastics team. The team looks forward to getting out there and performing for you again in 2013!
As we close the book on the 2012 season, we are now setting our sights on our 2013 campaign. Keep checking our website throughout the summer for information on our new recruits as well as updates on our returning athletes.
And ... Enjoy the Olympics ... Go USA!