Posts Tagged ‘Hollie Vise’

Hollie Vise and gymnastics — friends again

January 10, 2009

OUs Hollie Vise.

OU's Hollie Vise.

So says ESPN in a nice interview and story with the Oklahoma junior, coach K.J. Kindler and a few other people.

The article also confirms what a few insiders have been saying since Vise accepted a scholarship to OU — that former coach Steve Nunno would have let her have a full ride just for being a beam specialist.

Undoubtedly Vise’s name and accolades would have assured OU decent recruits (such as 2006 U.S. Championships runner-up Natasha Kelley, now a freshman) for years.

From darkness, Vise finds light with OU gymnastics

Hollie Vise and gymnastics are friends again.

Vise, a junior for the 10th-ranked Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team, is enjoying renewed enthusiasm for a sport that once led to the biggest disappointment in her life.

Hollie Vise went from being a world champion to a disappearing act, but she’s back — as a Sooner.The 21-year-old Dallas native begins the 2009 season Friday at No. 3 Florida as the Big 12’s defending champion on the uneven bars, an event on which she was once a world champion.

Coach K.J. Kindler expects big contributions from Vise on the bars and balance beam as the Sooners try to build on their program-best eighth-place finish at nationals last year.

“It’s nice to see that she loves gymnastics again,” Vise’s mother LeeAnn said, “because for two years, I don’t think she did.”

The Hollie Vise Reclamation Project seems to be working.

It began 2½ years ago — “ground zero,” as Vise calls it — when she arrived at Oklahoma still reeling from the disappointment of not making the 2004 Olympic squad.

She had no motivation, no confidence and was woefully out of shape.

“I was let down a lot,” Vise said. Going to the Olympics “had been my goal for so long.”

Placing Vise on an intense cardio and strength conditioning program would be easy enough. But restoring Vise’s confidence was another matter.

“I do think she came in defeated from her experience at the elite level,” Kindler said. “There was a lot of pushing, and there was a lot of encouragement.”

Vise is a product of the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy in Plano, Texas, the gym that produced the past two Olympic all-around champions, Carly Patterson in 2004 and Nastia Liukin in 2008.

After helping the U.S. win gold at the 2003 Worlds, Vise wanted one thing: A trip to the Olympics.

Hollie Vise performed on bars and beam at the 2003 World Championships in Anaheim.

Hollie Vise performed on bars and beam at the 2003 World Championships in Anaheim.

Vise was on top of the gymnastics world in 2003. At the World Championships, then-15-year-old Vise helped the United States win a team gold and won a share of the gold on bars with teammate Chellsie Memmel. That seemed to clear a path for Vise to the 2004 Athens Games.

But Vise was diagnosed with a compressed disc in her back early in 2004 and withdrew from the national championships in June that year. She was able to perform on the bars and beam at the Olympic Trials three weeks later, but back pain forced her to scale down her routines. At the final Olympic team selection camp a few weeks later, Vise fell off the beam in her last routine of the camp.

She was crushed when she didn’t hear her name called as the team was announced live on national television.

“The whole world saw me when I realized that all my dreams went down the drain,” Vise said.

Luikin knew that was a big blow for Vise. Not only did Vise endure the disappointment of not making the Olympics, but she watched Patterson, her close friend, become an instant celebrity by winning the all-around gold. Vise and Patterson trained alongside each other several years leading to the 2004 Games. Though Liukin trained with another group, she knows both very well.

“I was with her in the gym every single day and saw how much effort and how much determination she put into it,” said Liukin, a longtime friend of Vise. “To see her come up from a little short must have been real hard for her.”

Vise decided to take a break. It was supposed to be for a month or so, but then she withdrew from an overseas competition in early 2005.

“In my eyes, [gymnastics] wasn’t the same,” Vise said. “I just needed a break. … I wanted to try new things and live life a little.”

Vise didn’t resurface on the gymnastics scene until more than a year later.

She signed with Oklahoma in February 2006 under former Sooners coach Steve Nunno, who resigned shortly after signing day. Vise said Nunno wanted her to compete just on the beam in exchange for a full scholarship. That was easy enough for her.

But that deal wouldn’t fly with Kindler, who arrived at Oklahoma in the fall of 2006.

“I’m not a ride-the-wave kind of gal,” Kindler said. “We let her know that just doing the balance beam would be doing her and the team a disservice because she was such a talented athlete.”

Although Kindler had never met Vise before she arrived at Oklahoma, she was well aware of her credentials as a bars and beam specialist. Kindler couldn’t believe Vise didn’t want to compete in an event in which she owned a world championship.

But Kinder didn’t realize how far Vise had fallen. She could no longer do the simplest maneuvers on the bars.

“She couldn’t have done them, even if you had paid her a million dollars,” Kindler said.

“I was almost embarrassed because the last time a lot of these girls had seen me I was potentially going to be in the Olympics,” Vise said. “There were times when I asked myself, ‘Can I really come back from this?’ I knew deep down that if I put in the work, I could. But man, sometimes, it was so hard.”

Once a world gold-medalist on bars, Hollie Vise is the defending Big 12 champion on the event. Kindler said if Vise was going to pull through, she was going to have to redefine what success was.

“For her to have failed in that ultimate goal in her life was tragic for her,” Kindler said. “She had to have a different expectation level. She had to reinvent the wheel and realize that she had a lot to offer.”

Fellow junior Kristin Smith said the team rallied around the former world champion.

“It’s been motivating to see what she’s gone through,” Smith said. “It’s pushed us even more and has brought us all together.”

The process of building herself back up has given Vise a renewed appreciation for gymnastics. The fact she trains about half the amount she did when she was in peak form has helped. Now that she has more time for school and friends, Vise said she could never put herself through the rigors of Olympic training again.

And when she catches up with Patterson and Liukin, the subject is rarely about gymnastics. That suits Vise just fine.

“I still love gymnastics, but it doesn’t define my life anymore,” Vise said. “I just feel like a normal person.”

Vise looked very out of shape during her freshman year, but her fans were delighted to see her rally last season. Like the majority of elites-turned-NCAA gymnasts, Vise’s bar routine is less complex, but some of her big moves, including her piked Jaeger, are still there.

Courtney McCool’s bars

April 4, 2008

From last weekend’s SEC Championships:

Like Oklahoma’s Hollie Vise, McCool’s excellent form has remained intact despite the fact that she’s grown a bit since 2004. And she has great control on her full-twisting double layout dismount.

Courtney McCool, 2004 Olympics Team Qualifications, Uneven Bars:

According to the GymInfo NCAA Gymnastics Rankings, McCool is first in the nation on floor exercise and tied for sixth on balance beam. She has the makings of a fine all-around gymnast if only she did vault.

Her Yurchenko full, the standard NCAA vault, is pretty good, if memory serves.

Courtney McCool, 2002 U.S. Championships, Vault:

2008 USAG Hall of Fame Inductees

March 6, 2008

Carly Patterson helped the U.S. women win the team title at the 2003 World Championships.The golden 2003 U.S. women’s World Championship team headlines the 2008 inductees into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

Members of the 2003 World team were Carly Patterson, Hollie Vise, Courtney Kupets, Terin Humphrey, Chellsie Memmel, Annia Hatch, Ashley Postell and Tasha Schwikert.

The 2003 Worlds were the U.S. women’s greatest world championship triumph up to that point, but early on it looked like it might become a disaster. Humphrey and Memmel, the team’s alternates, and were substituted in when Postell became ill and Kupets tore her Achilles in training. Hatch tore her ACL the day before the competition but is still considered a member of the team.

Other Hall of Fame inductees this year include:

Olympians Jessica Davis of San Anselmo, Calif. (rhythmic), Marie Walther Bilski of Tempe, Ariz. (women’s), and Wayne Young of Pleasant Grove, Utah (men’s); synchronized trampoline and double mini-trampoline world champion Stuart Ransom of Southaven, Miss.; two-time NCAA champion Brent Simmons of Columbus, Ind. (men’s); women’s artistic gymnastics coach Mary Lee Tracy of West Chester, Ohio; and contributor Wendy Hilliard of New York City. Kenneth Allen of Oshkosh, Wis., is the 2008 Lifetime Achievement recipient in recognition of his contributions to gymnastics.

Their biographies are listed on the Hall of Fame’s website.


At last, Hollie Vise’s NCAA uneven bars routine

January 23, 2008

Hollie Vise as an elite.Oklahoma University gymnast Hollie Vise was honored as Big 10 event specialist of the week today after finishing second and third on balance beam and uneven bars, respectively, during the Sooners’ dual meet with Texas Woman’s University Saturday.

Teammate Kiara Redmond-Sturms, who has been busy establishing herself as an all-around force, was named Big 12 Gymnast of the Week after capturing her third overall title of the season against TWU.

Redmond-Sturms has more difficulty, including a very pleasant double layout on floor exercise. But Vise has the more dramatic backstory, as the 2003 World Champion on bars who was left off the 2004 Olympic Team, the result of a back injury at the wrong time and a fall on balance beam at the selection camp.

As a freshman in 2007, Vise competed only on balance beam for the Sooners. Her bar routine has been highly anticipated by NCAA gymnastics fans.

Youtube user Alexandrite105 has videos.

Hollie Vise, 2007 OU vs. Texas Woman’s, Uneven Bars:

Hollie Vise, 2007 OU vs. Texas Woman’s, Balance Beam:

At times during her freshman year, she looked out of shape and still slightly out of focus, somewhat dazed from the ordeal that was 2004. Nice to see she’s retained the style (on beam) and impeccable form (on bars) that won her so many fans during the last quad.

Youtube user Doublelayout10 gives an excellent primer on Vise’s younger days with this montage.

LSU, with a bullet

January 22, 2008

Georgia. Florida. Utah. Alabama. Stanford. UCLA.

Louisiana State?

LSU junior Ashleigh Clare-Kearney.The LSU Tigers have been making a strong statement so far this season that they belong in the Super Six. First it was at the highest opening meet score in school history, a 195.725 over Denver, Minnesota and Texas Woman’s at the Cancun Classic Jan. 4.

Then it swept Iowa at home and posted a 195.9 against Arkansas, moving in three weeks from being ranked no. 10 to no. 5.

Now, as it looks forward to Saturday’s meet at Georgia, LSU looks stronger than ever. Does that mean it actually has a chance at beating the SEC powerhouse Gym Dogs? Probably not. But with a good score, the surprise team of the season so far could surprise a bit more. 

The lynchpin of LSU’s pre-2007 success was LSU star April Burkholder, who delivered energetic performances and much of the team’s choreography. LSU has did not seem to have a performer who was been able to replace her last year, although Ashleigh Clare-Kearney nad Susan Jackson, a former training partner of Carly Patterson and Hollie Vise at WOGA, are both fairly strong.

As it happens, Clare-Kearney is this week’s SEC Gymnast of the Week.

Ashleigh Clare-Kearney, 2007 SEC Championships, Uneven Bars:

In addition, junior Clare-Kearney is currently ranked no. 1 in the nation in the all-around, tied with Florida’s Melanie Sinclair.

Can they keep it up? Could LSU, ranked 10th in preseason polls, break into the Super Six? Nothing is certain. Even Georgia has hardly exceeded expectations so far this season.

Also: New blog The Olympic Effect takes a closer look at Florida’s successes and shortcomings, suggesting the former is due to successful politicking by coach Rhonda Faehn. Faehn, of course, learned it during her elite days with Bela Karolyi, who is undoubtedly the greatest politicker in gymnastics history.

The Top 10:
1 Florida 196.975
2 Georgia 196.642
t3 Alabama 196.362
t3 Utah 196.362
5 LSU 195.725
6 Michigan 195.675
7 Oklahoma 195.583
8 UCLA 195.550
9 Stanford 195.375
10 Arkansas 195.275

NCAA Gymnastics: 2009 letters of intent

November 15, 2007

So far, here’s who’s going where in 2009:

Oklahoma University Women’s Gymnastics has signed 2006 World team member Natasha Kelley, Sara Stone and Megan Ferguson, while the men’s team received letters of intent from Patrick Piscitelli, Chad Crumley and Troy Nitzky.  

Signing Kelley is a coup for Oklahoma coach K.J. Kindler, who spent several years at Iowa State before taking over for a scandal-plauged Steve Nunno. Nunno’s greatest contribution to Oklahoma was probably getting 2003 World bars champ Hollie Vise, although Vise’s contribution to the Sooners thusfar has been mostly having her name attached to its gymnastics program. It’s a reason for someone like Kelley to be interested.

Natasha Kelley has signed a letter of intent to compete for the University of Oklahoma.

Oregon State has gotten the yes from Adonica Glatt, Leslie Mak and Canadian Stephanie McGregor.

That’s it for now. As Rick at Gymnastics Coaching pointed out earlier today, the top five college-eligible elites in the nation (ranked by GymGemz, a site focusing on college gymnastics) are 2007 U.S. Championships runner-up Shayla Worley, recently retired elite Bianca Flohr, WOGA’s Christa Tanella, tumbling ace Randy Stageberg and Olympic sleeper Darlene Hill.

Worley and perhaps Hill may hold off saying yes to any school before the 2008 Olympic Trials, although from what I understand a letter of intent doesn’t marry a gymnast to a particular university.

And as any one of the to-be reunited Magnificent Seven could tell you, there’s enough to be made to pay for several educations if you happen to be on an Olympic gold medal-winning team.

Gymnast or journalist?

October 24, 2007

The latest trend in collegiate women’s gymnastics: Having athletes write columns detailing the happenings of their teams.

Cases in point: Georgia freshman Hilary Mauro, who is peening Hilary’s Highlights, a week-by-week rundown of Gymdog preparation (and little nuggets about what they’re up to when not at practice), and Oklahoma sophomore Hollie Vise, whose Tumble Talk column will record her thoughts on the Sooners’ season.

It’s good to see Vise is still on Oklahoma’s team, given how uninspired she looked during much of her freshman season. Admittedly burned out mentally after not making the 2004 U.S. Olympic team and not in great physical shape when she arrived at OU last fall, she’s writing like she’s regrouped nicely over the summer.

We are through about a month of official practices and are well on our way to being ready for season! Preseason has been a lot of fun so far. We have been working hard and everyone is looking great. The progressions we have made in the past month are amazing.

Stanford is already way ahead of the game. Cardinal gymnasts have taken turns writing weekly updates its Inside the Locker Room feature for years. Other schools doing something similar include the University of Washington and the University of Arizona.