Full Twist contributor Anna Rose Johnson recently caught up with some elite, level 10, and NCAA gymnasts to discuss their training, future goals, and more.
Lacy Dagen, Brandie Jay, Bailie Key, Elizabeth Price, Sydney Snead, and Bridget Sloan provided us with thoughtful insights into their training.
Lacy Dagen is a former elite gymnast from Pleasanton, California, who trains at San Mateo Gymnastics. She recently finished third in the Senior A division of the J.O. National Championships, and is heading to the University of Florida next fall.
“Competing as an elite was an awesome experience, but I will definitely continue as a level 10 for my last season before college,” Lacy commented. “I hope to add a few upgrades and stay consistent throughout the season.”
Lacy was 16th in the all-around 7th on vault in the juniors at the 2012 Visa Championships. “2012 was an incredible year for me because it was my first year as an official elite gymnast,” Lacy told Full Twist. “I got to compete at both U.S. Classics and Visa Championships. Classics was definitely my all-time favorite meet. I had so much fun that year, and I became friends with so many amazing girls from around the country. After championships, I went on to attend many national team camps. 2012 was amazing, but 2013 wasn’t so great because it was filled with many injuries. I barely competed that year. I came back for the 2014 season as a level 10, and I had a blast! I won the all-around at states and regionals, and then won beam and placed 3rd all-around at nationals. This past year really gave me some confidence, and now I am so excited for the upcoming season!”
Lacy described her schedule to us: “During the summer we train Monday through Friday. On Mondays and Wednesdays, we train from 12:30 to 3:00, and then again from 3:30 to 8:00. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays we train only from 3:30 to 8:00. Before gym in the summer, I normally just relax and hang out with my sister at our house! During the school year, I get up and go to school from 8:00 a.m. to about 1:45 p.m. I then head home to change and grab a quick snack before my sister and I head out for the 40 minute drive to practice. We train from 3:30 to 8:00Monday through Friday during the school year, and we also add in a Saturday practice from 8:30-12:30.”
When asked about her gymnastics goals, Lacy replied, “My goals for this year are to stay healthy throughout the season, add a couple bar upgrades, and to go to [J.O.] nationals again. Because I trained elite before, last year was my first nationals. It was so much fun! When I get to Florida, my goals are to help the team ‘achieve greatness’ and hopefully help them win another national title!”
A former elite who now competes in NCAA gymnastics at Georgia, Brandie Jay has been in the gymnastics spotlight for several years now. “Training has been going great, I have been in Athens for most of the summer!” Brandie told us. “[I’ve] been working hard on improving my form and technique! Working some upgrades on bars!”
Brandie was a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. team at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. At those Games, she also won the vault gold. When asked if she might ever return to elite, Brandie explained, “As far as elite, right now I am focusing on helping my team for the last two years that I have here and getting that national championship! I know that this team is capable of it and so right now I am pushing myself so that I can help make it happen.”
“As far as my goals I am solely focused on 2014 and how I can be there to help my team in any way possible!” said Brandie. “The thing I love most about this team is that we aren’t afraid of hard work and our goal is to win and that’s what we are willing to work towards. None of us shy away from a challenge and that’s makes us exceptional in and out of the gym.”
The 2013 U.S. junior national champion, Bailie Key, recently had to withdraw from this year’s P&G Championships due to an elbow injury. Now working toward 2015, Bailie told Full Twist that she is “definitely planning to attend October camp. I want to be strong and healthy starting my first camp as a senior. I am very excited about the new challenges ahead.”
Bailie isn’t sure when her next competition will be; as she noted, “I am just focusing on one day at a time and training well.”
She also described a typical day in her life. “I wake up, eat breakfast and then train at the gym for four and a half hours. Then (if it’s summer) I go to physical therapy or I get a massage. After that I go back to the gym and train for two and a half more hours,” said Bailie. “Then I go home, eat dinner and go to bed. Then I do it all over again the next day! During school I have the same gym schedule and work on school between workouts.”
Elizabeth Price, the 2014 Pacific Rim Championships AA gold medalist and 2012 Olympic alternate, retired from elite gymnastics in April and is heading to Stanford this fall. “My life since retiring from elite gymnastics has been more relaxing and refocused,” Elizabeth told Full Twist. “It’s relaxing in that I don’t have to be stressed that my future lies in that heads of someone else; as it would have been in the hands of the judges and selection committee if I tried for the World team. My life is refocused because now, schoolwork is at the center of my mind 24/7 and has taken the spot of my gymnastics. My life has changed a lot since retiring and I’m looking forward to what it has in store for me.”
Elizabeth commented on making the transition to collegiate gymnastics. “It’s been strange switching to training for my college routines. I’m working fewer skills and practicing for half the amount of time. I’m still getting used to only being in the gym for only four hours a day instead of seven or eight. So that part of my life has changed a lot, but I’m getting used to it.” She explained what a typical day for her is like now: “A typical day for me right now is going in to the gym to practice from 7am to 11am before I start work. I work at Parkettes with some of the younger gymnast for a couple hours, coaching them mainly on bars and vault. I get home around 4pm and have time to hang out with my brothers and make sure I have everything ready for when I officially start school.”
Elizabeth’s future goals in gymnastics are “to be as consistent as possible and do everything I can to make sure my team can learn, grow, and become the best it can.”
Sydney Snead is a Level 10 gymnast from Raleigh, North Carolina. She was second in the all-around in the Senior A division of the 2014 J.O. National Championships. “I enjoy competing as a level 10 gymnast,” remarked Sydney, when asked if she might return to elite. “After Nationals last year I was invited to the National Team Training Camps in June and July. I really enjoyed the experience of elite gymnastics. It was a very intense week of training. It’s added pressure when you have Martha [Karolyi] watching and scoring each of your events. Unfortunately I got injured at the July camp. Right now I’m just focused on getting healthy and trying to prepare for my level 10 season next year!”
Sydney, who trains at Sonshine Gymnastics, told Full Twist, “My goals right now are to upgrade some skills on all four events and to win [J.O.] Nationals. I’m looking forward to attending the University of Georgia in the future and hope to contribute to their team!”
“I’m very thankful God has given me the opportunity to compete at Nationals for the past four years,” Sydney continued. “Nationals has always been a great experience for me. I enjoy the high level of competition that is always there. It pushes me to make myself better and it teaches me how to handle pressure. I’ve met so many talented gymnasts over the years that have turned into great friends.”
We caught up with Bridget Sloan, the only woman ever to win U.S., World, and NCAA all-around titles. She was a member of the 2008 Olympic team that won the silver medal in Beijing, China. Bridget is entering her junior year at the University of Florida, and she took time of out her busy schedule to discuss how her training’s been going!
Special thanks to the gymnasts for chatting with us! Stay tuned for Part 2, in which we’ll provide updates on Polina Shchennikova, Lloimincia Hall, and others!
Photo credit: NCAA