As reported in The Red & Black, after scoring 197 or over in its last three home meets, last Friday the Georgia GymDogs embarked on the first leg of their three-week road trip in Gainesville, where it upset No. 3 Florida and concluded the meet with a 197.45, its highest away score of the season by over a point.
According to the GymDogs, their strategy for continued success is how they have been traveling with portable components of a typical home competition including maintaining their pre-meet routine, creating their own version of a home-crowd atmosphere and remaining focused in spite of road meet changes.
“This whole year is going to just be a growth process for them in so many ways,” head coach Courtney Kupets Carter said. “One of them is bringing the energy and comfort they feel in Stegeman, [taking] the fan energy, how fun it is, to an away meet, because it’s very different.”
Before any competition, the GymDogs bond with pre-meet preparations that include listening to rap music to get the athletes hyped up.
“We keep our music going and our joking around and helping each other,” junior Sabrina Vega said. “It keeps us normal.”
Besides the travel, the away meet adds pressure to the competition since the gymnasts notice little to no enthusiasm from crowds cheering for their opponent, which is why they create their own support base on the floor.
“We definitely try to bring the energy from Bulldog nation to the away meets,” freshman Rachel Baumann said. “We cheer as loud as we can, just try to dance, have fun, get loose, but also try to focus in on ourselves, keep a bubble around the team.”
Some of the most notable differences between a home meet and an away meet are the shifts of the event order. When Georgia’s at home, it starts on vault, then rotates to bars, beam and floor. In an away meet, Georgia begins on bars moving on to vault, floor and beam.
Baumann, who competes on both floor and beam, it’s almost irrelevant which event comes first.
“[On] floor, I like to bring the energy,” Baumann said. “But I also like to be fierce, and I like to be the same on beam. So for me, it’s not as much of a transition, but more of like ‘OK, do what you need to do to focus on the beam, what you need to focus on floor.’”
Kupets Carter sees the value in the long stretch of away meets for her team’s development, as they keep showing improvement away from home.
“We get one [away meet] after the other,” Kupets Carter said. “They are ready to go on the road. They have all of those little pieces in their belt now in terms of readiness… It’s the end of the season where they’re confident in their gymnastics, so the scores will be where they need to be away.”
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