Elite and NCAA Gymnast Training Updates—Part 2


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. In Part 1 Anna chatted to Bridget Sloan, Lucy Dagen, Brandie Jay, Bailie Key, Elizabeth Price,  and Sydney Snead – read that, including a video interview with Bridget Sloan, here.

Corrie Lothrop, Jessie DeZiel, Lloimincia Hall, Samantha Peszek, Polina Shchennikova, Madison Stover, and McKenzie Wofford provided us with thoughtful insights into their training.


Corrie Lothrop is a former elite gymnast who now competes for Utah in NCAA gymnastics. “My training has been going well,” Corrie told Full Twist. “Since the summer is optional, it gives us all a chance to try out new things. I took a hip hop dance class, did bikram yoga, hiked, and kayaked … things I probably would not have time to do during the pre-season and competition season. I am not learning new skills at this point in my college career, per se, but sometimes I like to play around with big skills I used to do back in my elite days. I have been working on some upgrades on different events here and there, but mostly I am just trying to keep my body feeling as good as possible.”

“A typical day for me looks like this: I wake up, get ready, eat breakfast, drive to campus, and head to class,” explained Corrie. “After class I eat lunch at the gym and go to practice. After practice I get any treatment necessary so I can be ready for the next day. I go home, make dinner, do some homework, watch a TV show or Netflix, and go to bed. Depending on the day, I will get up earlier or later, but that has basically been my schedule for as long as I can remember.”

When asked her about her goals for 2014 and beyond, Corrie told us, “My gymnastics goals for 2014 are to stay healthy and get back to Super 6 at Nationals.  Being smart with my training and knowing when my body is trying to tell me something will be key this year. Since I am a fifth year senior and my body is not as young as it used to be, I have to make smart decisions every day so I can be at my best during the competition season and contribute as much as I can, hopefully on all four events again. Beyond 2014, I will be earning my second degree in May 2015. I have not thought much beyond that since I am trying to enjoy my last year of gymnastics one day at a time.”

It’s been six years now since Corrie was named an alternate to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team. “Being named to the Olympic Team was such an honor for me because I was just breaking into the Senior Elite world and did not have much experience,” Corrie reflected. “I did not think there was any way I would be on that team because I was not a known name. Being an alternate was an amazing experience because I was surrounded by the best of the best and working out with gymnasts like Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson made me push myself even harder to be as good as them. It really helped my confidence that the National Team Staff saw me as a possible contributor at the Olympics or else they would have named someone else. The whole journey to the Olympics definitely was not an easy one, but it was totally worth it. I believe I have brought that confidence in myself and in my gymnastics to college and now I get to have fun competing and performing.”



Jessie DeZiel is a former elite gymnast who now competes for the University of Nebraska. “Training this summer has been going really well,” she told Full Twist. “I have taken some breaks this summer to give my body a break and take a little break from everything, and coming back to start training after those breaks makes me more ready to go. My team and I have been working really hard this summer on our physical strength, which I think is going to help. But overall my training and my team’s training has been awesome!”

Jessie was a member of the U.S. national team from 2011-12, and was a member of the gold medal-winning team at the 2011 Pan American Games. “I don’t plan on ever returning to elite but it was such a great experience,” remarked Jessie. “I do plan on having gymnastics in my life and helping other younger girls achieve their goals and if elite is their goal I would love to go through the process with them to help them reach their goals.”

She also mentioned her own gymnastics goals for this season and beyond: “I have so many personal goals this season and also a lot of team goals,” Jessie explained. “Reaching team goals is so much more exciting than reaching personal goals. I love seeing myself and my teammates put everything together at meets and do what we work so hard for. For the season, my goals for myself are to win a national championship and be a leader on the team. My goals for the team are to make super six again and place in the top three there. After gymnastics, I plan on staying involved in gymnastics but on the other side I am on now. I would love to get involved in coaching college gymnastics after my gymnastic career is over.”


Lloimincia Hall is entering her senior year at Louisiana State University, where she has made a huge name for herself in the world of gymnastics. Known for her dazzling floor routines and incredible tumbling, Lloimincia gave Full Twist an update on how her training’s been going. “[It’s been going] amazing!! I enjoyed working out in the Nike World Headquarters Facilities this summer during my internship,” she told us.

Lloimincia enjoyed a successful Level 10 career prior to taking the stage at LSU. She was fifth in her division of the 2009 J.O. National Championships, and finished thirteenth in the all-around at the inaugural Nastia Liukin Cup in 2010. When asked if she might try elite gymnastics after college, Lloimincia said, “Absolutely not!! I am a grandma in this sport, LOL.”

“My goal in gymnastics is to be a part of a team that achieves history as being the first LSU Gymnastics Team to win a National Championship,” said Lloimincia. She also revealed that she will be showcasing a new floor routine for the upcoming NCAA season.


Samantha Peszek has been at the forefront of gymnastics for many years. She was a member of the gold medal-winning 2007 World Championships team from the U.S., and she also won a team silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Now she competes for UCLA in NCAA gymnastics. “Training has been going well,” Samantha told Full Twist in August. “I am not doing full out gymnastics training right now because I use the summer to get healthy and repair all of my aches and pains from the season. I do a lot of cross-training by running, circuits, cycling, yoga, etc. I do go into the gym and work basics and occasionally my skills, but the focus in summer is to get in shape and be as healthy as possible.”

Heading into her fifth season in NCAA, Samantha told us that “as a fifth year, I’m not sure my routines will change that drastically. I think I will probably end up switching my beam routine from last year because I got a little bored with it. I’m also going to train my standing full on beam, so hopefully I can compete that more this year…….we’ll see.”

“I have a lot of goals for the 2015 season,” said Samantha. “My number one goal is to just enjoy every moment being in the gym and actually doing gymnastics because it’s my last year of the sport I love. Of course, I love it a lot more when our team is doing well. I’m definitely hungry for success this year. I know our team has a lot of potential and it has been frustrating not being able to show that. This year I want us to start off strong and to be consistent especially on beam. I haven’t scored a perfect 10 on beam yet, so that’s definitely a personal goal of mine as well.”

Recently we’ve witnessed Samantha trying out a new aspect of gymnastics—commentating! At the P&G Championships, she provided thoughtful analysis on the USA Gymnastics livestreams, and it was a treat to listen to her!


Polina Shchennikova, a first-year senior, trains at TIGAR Gymnastics and has unfortunately missed this year’s competitions due to injuries, but Polina is making her way back to the big scene. “Training has been going really well! I have been gaining more and more strength everyday which is really helping me gain back my skills,” she told Full Twist.

When asked if she knew when her next competition might be, Polina remarked, “No, I’m not sure yet, but I hope it’s soon!”

She is planning to attend the national team training camp in October. “I am really excited to finally be able to go back to camp!” said Polina.


Madison Stover is a Level 10 gymnast from Fullerton, California who trains at Wildfire Gymnastics. We caught up with her to discuss her training and goals for the future.

“Training is going great!” said Madison, who is called Maddy. “I completed the Bridge Program over this summer at the University of Utah. So, along with taking summer school classes, being able to train with my new team made for an easy adjustment to college life. My body is healthy and I am more motivated than ever in the gym as everyone on the team is reaching toward the same goals, each of us encouraging one another. I want to be the best person and athlete I can be to better my team and help us have successful year.”

Maddy was fourth in the all-around and won the gold on beam at the 2014 J.O. National Championships. “I have competed gymnastics since I was 6, so it has been my whole life,” explained Maddy. “Growing up in the gym provided me with coaches as mentors and teammates as best friends. Being able to compete at J.O. Nationals every year [that] I competed level 10 was a goal of mine [and I achieved it] with the support of my parents and coaches. (I went 5 years in a row.) And I got to end my J.O. career with a 1st place finish at J.O. Nationals on my last event … beam! Going into my last season in J.O. it was a sad but exciting time as every gymnast dreams of being on a college team … and lucky for me University of Utah is an amazing program with a major fan base, drawing around 15,000 fans to their meets, so who wouldn’t be excited to perform in front of that! Hahaha. But J.O. treated me well and provided me the opportunity to compete for such a high caliber NCAA gymnastics team … I am very blessed and thankful to the people who supported me along the way.”

As she readies for her first season at Utah, Maddy commented on her gymnastics goals: “My goal right now for the start of pre-season soon is to keep a healthy and strong body. As we begin to put routines together I want to be in the position where I can be considered for [the] lineup on multiple events. As the season progress my goals will change and adapt to where I am at that time. But goals that will always remain the same for me are to: #1, go out in every competition with nothing but confidence in my abilities (being prepared to HIT all routines), #2, look to better my performance from one competition to the next, [and] #3 always be a supportive teammate and have fun performing the sport that I love.”


Former elite McKenzie Wofford is entering her sophomore year at the University of Oklahoma. “Training has been going great this summer!” McKenzie told Full Twist. “I am working on a few new skills and changing up my routines quite a bit. The whole team this summer has been working very hard to make it to the next level.”

McKenzie helped Oklahoma tie for their first ever NCAA Championships win in April. She explained, “I was elite for a very long time, I think it was seven years. It was a great adventure to be on, but I do not ever see myself going back to elite.”

McKenzie commented on her goals for 2014 and beyond: “For the rest of this year I am just trying to put 150% into everything I do during preseason to reach my highest potential,” she explained. “Our whole team has the same goal in mind this year and that is to win another National Championship, but this time by ourselves! It is going to take a lot of hard work, but I know that we can do it again. Also this year I am hoping to be in the lineup on more events to help out the team.”

Special thanks to the gymnasts for chatting with us! Stay tuned for Part 3, in which we’ll provide updates on Ellie Black, Abigail Milliet, and others!

Image source: Unknown.

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