Posts Tagged ‘Shavahn Church’

Texas: The new gymnastics state?

May 21, 2008

There’s something about Texas.

A Houston Chronicle article spotlights the longhorn state’s acumen at producing gymnasts. An interesting statistic going into the men’s U.S. Championships, which begin Thursday:

[Jonathan] Horton will not be alone in viewing his time in Houston as something of a home game. Of 45 senior men in the two-day competition Thursday and Saturday, 15 attended high school in Texas or have competed for Texas club programs.

Texas gymnasts competing this week will represent or have represented Minnesota, Ohio State, Air Force, Stanford and, of course, the Sooners.

“I love Oklahoma,” Horton said. “I love the school and the team and the coaches. But I’m a Texas boy at heart. As much as Texas is our rival, I would have stayed here if I’d had the chance.

“If the University of Texas had a gymnastics program, there’s no doubt in my mind that it would be the most dominant program in the country.”

It is remarkable how many different athletes, from how many different gyms, have come from Texas. Off the top of one’s head, there are the WOGAites, Karolyi kids, gymnasts from Stars Academy and Cypress Academy, Houston Gymnastics Academy and Texas Dreams.

Sure, Texas is the second largest state in the union, so it’s bound to have more gymnasts the same way it probably has more football players, lawyers and garbage disposals than many other states. Then again, it was Oklahoma that Sports Illustrated dubbed the “gymnastics state” several years ago.

Horton may be right in assuming that if all those Texans could stay in-state, the University of Texas might be as good as Oklahoma or Georgia. But it’s unlikely to happen. At a few of the best schools — Utah, Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida — gymnastics sells tickets and packs arenas.

Almost everywhere else, it’s a money-loser. Coaching and equipment are expensive, and administrators give scholarships knowing there’s a lot of risk attached. The number of highly touted scholarship gymnasts who last throughout their NCAA eligibility seems decent, but there are also prominent examples of those who medical after a year or two. Lindsey Vanden Eykel (UCLA), Marie Fjordholm (Georgia), Samantha Sheehan (Georgia) and, if the rumors are true, Shavahn Church (UCLA) all come to mind.

Notes from the stands at the Pac-10 Championships

March 31, 2008

1. Stanford 197.000
2. Oregon State 196.550
3. UCLA 196.200
4. Arizona 195.725
5. California 193.400
6. Washington 193.375
7. Arizona State 191.925


Church, Mackie and Utah floor choreography

February 20, 2008

Gael MackieA couple weeks ago I blogged that neither Gael Mackie nor Shavahn Church had yet competed for their respective schools, Utah and UCLA. Both were feted as huge newcomers.

And they will be…maybe next season.

Church has a knee injury, but still managed to show off her great lines with an uneven bars exhibition when UCLA romped Cal 195.225 to 189.425 Sunday. (Thanks to reader Alisa for the link.)

Shavahn Church, 2008 UCLA vs. Cal, Uneven Bars:

Mackie finally competed on uneven bars when Utah came to Washington last Friday, earning a 9.775. Good friend Jaz was at the meet in Bank of America Arena on the University of Washington campus. She was impressed with the overall quality of Utah’s gymnastics, but found their floor choreography a bit lacking.

Hard to believe, given the sensational splashy routines Kristina Baskett competed in 2006 and 2007.

Kristina Baskett,  2006 NCAA Championships, Floor Exercise:

Kristina Baskett, 2007 NCAA Championships, Floor Exercise:

Rick at Gymnastics Coaching apparently felt the same way — at least about Utah’s acrobatics, when he attended the Utah-Arizona State meet a few weeks ago.

My only criticism of the Utes last night was their tumbling. Aside from [Ashley] Postell’s drop-from-the-sky triple twist, It’s not strong. The routines are clean and safe. But to me the Arizona girls were more dynamic and exciting tumblers.

Church, Mackie yet to compete for UCLA, Utah

February 6, 2008

UCLA and Utah made a big deal of getting freshmen Shavahn Church and Gael Mackie, respectively, a year earlier than originally planned.

Both arrived at their schools in the winter and began working out with their teams, but neither has had a score count yet.

Shavahn ChurchAfter standout 2003 and 2004 seasons as a U.S. junior Church, who holds dual citizenship with Great Britain, declared that she would compete for England in senior international competition. Which she did at the 2005 World Championships, 2006 European Championships and 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Injuries have slowed her down since then, and some saw her decision to come to UCLA a year earlier than planned as a way of throwing in the towel on her Olympic aspirations.

In her “Between the bars” online diary entry for Jan. 6, UCLA coach Valorie Kondos-Field reported that Church had not been cleared to train following arthroscopic surgery to “clean out her knee” in December.

Gael MackieMackie is uninjured, but the Utes’ lineup is really, really deep. The 2004 Canadian Olympian has competed an exhibition bar routine in two meets but has yet to be placed in the lineup. Utah coach Greg Marsden told The Salt Lake Tribune that Mackie needs to “relax and gain some confidence.”

Mackie herself sounds raring to go.

“I think about it all the time, how much I want to be in the lineup,” she said. “I came here to perform and stuff, so hopefully I’ll get to.”

Church to compete for UCLA this winter

November 11, 2007

UCLA Gymanstics announced this week that Californian Shavahn Church, a member of the British team at the 2005 World Championships, will compete for UCLA during the upcoming season.

Shavahn Church

As Terin Humphrey did at the University of Alabama in 2004, Church will enroll beginning winter quarter, meaning she’ll have her first classes within days of competing in her first meet — or vice-versa.

Church, who was a U.S. standout as a junior, exercised her dual citizenship rights to become a member of the British National Team. She was injured in 2007 and was not on the British team that competed in Stuttgart in September.

Shavahn Church, 2005 World Championships All-Around, Uneven Bars: (Check out the toe-on Shaposhnikova in the piked position, done in combination with a Pak salto — the skill is named after her.)

Church’s ties to UCLA run deep. She’s spent the past few years training with UCLA assistant coach Chris Waller and apparently has a long history with UCLA Gymnastics doyenne Valorie Kondos Field.

“I have known Shavahn since she was nine years old, and I have always felt that she was the epitome of an artistic gymnast,” said UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field. “She is as brilliant in her artistry of the sport as she is exciting with her gymnastics skills.”

Church is likely to make an already competitive UCLA squad even more so. The Bruins already boast 2000 Olympic team member Tasha Schwikert, Allison Taylor, Kristina Comforte, Anna Li and former Canadian standout Marci Bernholtz.

One has to wonder if she’s still planning on being a part of the British Olympic team given this decision.

In other NCAA news, 2006 U.S. Championships runner-up Natasha Kelley has announced her intention to compete for the University of Oklahoma next year.