Senior Elizabeth Price headlines the 2018 women’s gymnastics team, as her “perfect 10” on the uneven bars confirms her status as one of the premier gymnasts in college. However, the team isn’t without change as Samantha Yim was named head coach after long-time head coach Kristen Smyth resigned in August.
An alumna of Stanford and a former Cardinal gymnast, Yim expressed her excitement to be back at her alma mater in time to coach Price, who she worked with in 2015. Yim admired Price’s growth as a leader on a team that is nearly half freshmen.
Both Yim and Price believe these new team members are the key to a better season trajectory than last year, when the Cardinal did not qualify as a team for NCAA championships.
“They bring a lot of energy, fresh blood,” Yim enthused, “They’re excited to get out there and hit the ground running and that gives our entire team a real boost.”
“We have a new coach and six new faces that are definitely going to be adding a lot,” Price agreed, but added that the experience of the upperclassmen will be just as imperative to the team’s success and culture in the gym.
With all this potential meriting high expectations, Yim believes the team has the recipe to fulfill them: risk-taking and incremental growth.
“Something that we’re planning to do that’s a little bit different than [in] years past is we’re going to throw a lot of difficulty early in the season and we’re going to go big, because we think that’s what it’s going to take at the end of the year to be successful against some of these top teams, and we’re willing to take the risk.”
But in the long term, Yim explains, “We definitely have that slight edge philosophy of every single day we’re gonna get a little bit and a little bit better.”
Price has adopted the same attitude with regard to her personal goals.
“My main goal is just to take it meet by meet. If I’m out there doing the best routines I can in the moment then I’ ll be happy with my performance,” she said.
She added, “[I’m hoping] to make it the best year I can for my freshmen as well, because they’re the future of the program. I want them to be able to say they had just as an amazing time and experience as I did.”
Although she is continuing to exceed her goals, anchor her team, and make school records, Price is not reconsidering her previous decision to exit the gymnastics world after she graduates. Although she finds it hard to imagine her life without gymnastics, she is ready to move on.
“I’ve been doing gymnastics since I was three years old and I’ve done amazing things with the sport,” she said. “That being said I want to let other people take over and do what they want with the sport, and I’ll go a different way.”
Fortunately for fans, Price and her team have a long season left ahead of them.
Stanford will next compete this Sunday in Reno at “Elevate the Stage” against Pac-12 competitors Utah, Washington and UCLA, a team consistently ranked second or third nationally. While Yim and Price acknowledge the level of competition, neither are phased by the challenge.
“I think that we put a lot of work in,” Price explained, “and if we can bring out the consistency that we have at the gym and really fine tune those details we’ll be just as good of an opponent as they are.”
“It’s a perfect way to prepare for post-season,” Yim added, “Being such a young team we feel it’s really important to face off against the top teams in the nation.”
“Elevate” will take place on podium, a different competition surface than most meets, which she feels will also help give the freshmen early exposure to diverse circumstances and difficulties.
Stanford will round out the month by hosting Arizona on Jan. 20 and heading to Corvallis to face Oregon on Jan. 27. In February, the Cardinal will travel to UC Davis, Arizona and Washington, and host Cal on Jan. 17.
March will start off with another “Elevate” meet, this time against Nebraska, Illinois and Georgia, before Stanford hosts UCLA on the 11th. The Cardinal will compete in the Pac-12 championships in Arizona on Jan. 24.
To witness Price in action, to cheer on the newest additions, or perhaps to behold another “perfect 10,” come to the next home meet at Maples Pavilion on Jan. 20 at 2 p.m. against Arizona.
Contact Sylvie Ashford at sylviash ‘at’ stanford.edu.