This summer, Mizzou gymnastics is set to host two camp sessions at the Tiger Performance Complex. Head coach Shannon Welker, in addition to assistant coaches John Carney and Casey Jo Magee will lead the charge in the June and July camps.
Mizzou Athletics sat down with the five soon-to-be Tigers senior gymnasts, and gathered their thoughts on the upcoming camps as well as reminiscing about their own personal experiences with gymnastics camps as a young aspiring gymnast.
Katelyn, you're entering your final season with Mizzou gymnastics. How does it feel to help out so many young aspiring gymnasts over these past years in Columbia?
Katelyn Trevino: Over the years of teaching camp for Mizzou, it has taught me so many things! At first, it was an odd transition going from being a young camper who looked up to the college gymnasts and coaches, to actually being in that opposite role. Initially, it's confusing. Like, "How did I suddenly become a role model to these young girls?" But then you learn to embrace the role and platform you've been given to inspire and impact the lives of these young gymnasts' shoes that you were once in.
It's really awesome to see that cycle, and to have the opportunity to be in an influential position to motivate young girls and be lights in their lives. It also pushes all of us to a higher standard and accountability level. You have to constantly ask yourself, what kind of role model did I want to look up to and what advice/encouragement did I wish I had when I was their age? It's really been an awesome privilege to be a part of something that has a big impact on these young gymnasts' lives and I know I can speak for all of us when I say that we are really grateful to get to be a part of this program's camp!
Rebecca, this will be your fourth Mizzou gymnastics camp. What are your personal goals to teach to the campers this upcoming weekend?
Rebecca Johnson: I'd say something we really want to instill in the minds of the campers is the importance of encouraging your teammates and having a positive attitude. There's so much more to gymnastics than just flips. It's about dedication, perseverance, passion, and working through tough days. It's so awesome when you have teammates and friends to cheer you on and keep everyone's spirits high, and I think that is the ideal environment we're trying to create at our camps.
We want the kids to know that it's okay to fall, it's okay to fail, it's okay to get frustrated for a second, but the way they get back up and keep going is what builds character and that will make them better gymnasts in the end. Above all, we want camp to be a total blast for each girl that comes and for them to want to go back to their home gyms and work harder than ever before!
Laura, what's it like to give back to the local Columbia community in events like this weekend's Mizzou gymnastics camp?
Laura Kappler: I really love working camps like ours, because the kids look up to us as collegiate gymnasts and they look forward to spending a long weekend with us. I think sometimes we get caught up in our own personal busy schedules, so it's fun to teach little kids who are full of energy and ready to learn from us because we can serve as their role models.
There has been a couple times following camp where I've been out at the store and a camper I worked with remembered me and they ran up and gave me a hug. I think I'm just a normal person, but to these little girls we are more than just normal. I really appreciate the opportunity I have to coach and teach during these camps!
Rachel, what do you recall from your own camp sessions you attended back in the day? What fun activities / positives stood out the most as you continued to learn the sport?
Rachel Updike: When I was younger I was on the U.S. National Team. Every year there were camps held for the national team members at Karolyi's Ranch. I enjoyed meeting new teammates and even international gymnasts. My favorite part about the camps were how it was always challenging having elite athletes working hard with you every day. This motivated me to push harder to achieve my goals. Also being mentored by coaches other than your own allowed you to hear different corrections from different coaches and their perspectives. I really believe that it's important to hear those corrections from other people because it gives you something else to focus on to improve your gymnastics.
Lastly, camps were always a blast outside of the gym as well! I remember walking around the ranch and seeing all of Bela Karolyi's animals, swimming and playing games in the cabins with all the girls. Camps are really a time for making memories and new friends! Although they are hard work, you will learn a lot of gymnastics and I promise it's all worth it!
Briana, what message do you have for this weekend's campers and also for the second session campers set to arrive in Columbia in July?
Briana Conkle: I'm really excited to see what the first camp session has in store for us. I think the campers should come in with a positive attitude and a willingness to work attitude. Camp is all about having fun while also getting some work done.
Campers should have goals in mind of what they want to accomplish while attending camp this week. They should also be ready to have some FUN! We can't wait to help these girls accomplish their goals and take away some valuable information and lessons. We LOVE hard working groups! July campers should have the same mentality of coming in ready to work hard and having fun!