Throughout the University of Missouri-Columbia campus this weekend, many will be celebrating the first quarter of the school year with homecoming festivities. With the first two months of the 2013-14 school year in the books, the freshman class at Mizzou will soon be concluding their first semester in Columbia.
For the five freshman student-athletes within the Mizzou Gymnastics team, the transition from high school to college has needless to say been a whirlwind of emotions.
Anna Bowers (Matthews, N.C.), Alyson Heimsath (Houston, Texas), Angie Kern (Columbia, Mo.), Lark Pokladnik (Dallas, Texas), and Sasha Sander (Cincinnati, Ohio) all make up the current Tigers gymnastics freshman class. For each student-athlete, the experiences they've faced so far in the new collegiate atmosphere have varied.
"The first couple of months here have definitely been an adventure," said Kern. "Getting into the groove of everything from gymnastics practice, to academics, has been tough but I wouldn't change it for anything else."
Similar to her teammate, Sander notes the challenges of managing the athletics lifestyle and the academics expectations for collegiate student-athletes.
"These first months are truly ones to remember," said Sander. "There have been a lot of transition with learning how to work through a busy schedule, and finding ways to balance school and athletics."
"It has only been a couple months, but I already feel right at home and I know I'm part of something very special here at Mizzou."
Up to this point in their gymnastics career, the five freshman have experienced practices and competitions primarily within their club teams back home. As they enter the collegiate world of gymnastics and will compete against perennial power teams inside the Southeastern Conference (SEC), they know what challenges lie ahead of them.
During these first months of practices and inter-squads at the Tiger Performance Complex, the freshman class have immediately noticed the differences between the club and college atmosphere.
"It's way different," said Heimsath. "Doing gymnastics in high school is more for yourself, and getting better. College is all about the team. You work hard every day to better the team, and continue to push your teammates."
Bowers has also quickly taken in the "team" aspect of collegiate gymnastics here at Mizzou.
"The biggest transition from club to college is putting your teammates before yourself, and realizing that everything you do has an effect on the team," said Bowers. "Once you understand this you will then be ready to successfully make that transition."
As the freshman on the Mizzou roster continue their preparation for the exhibition opener on Dec. 8, 2013 against Lindenwood, they all are looking forward to the challenges ahead of them.
"I'm looking forward to competing, and being within a team atmosphere," said Pokladnik. "The SEC is no joke, so we will need all the support we can get from each other and the Mizzou fans. I believe this will be a great season, and that we will make a name for ourselves within Mizzou athletics!"
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