Nationals 2019-Daytona Beach, FL

So I finally have time to catch up on my blog posts because, guess what?! I am done with college!!!!! Classes, that is. Thursday was my last ever studio and I just turned in the last assignment for it!

This post will be about my last ever Nationals. Held in Daytona Beach, Florida from April 10th to the 14th.

Day 1: We Made It

We arrived on a sunny afternoon. It was humid. We’d driven four hours to the airport in DC, flown for two hours or so, and drove (thanks to my parents) an hour and a half to our hotel. It was a lot of travelling, but luckily, the girls didn’t compete until 5:00 PM the next day. We took a rest in the room, then went out to find food. None of this is very exciting, so I will skip to the next day.

Day 2: Prelims

The boys competed at  8 AM so even though we didn’t compete until 5 PM, I was still up to watch them compete. I always enjoy watching the men’s competition, even though I have almost no idea what is going on. I guess that’s how everyone else feels when I compete. After the competition was over, I hung out with my parents for a bit. We took a walk along the “boardwalk” which was actually concrete. (I have a few beefs with the layout of this town but I will not get into them now). Anyway, we walked to the end of this pier and watched the fishermen reel in their catch. I looked over and saw what I’m pretty sure was a shark! Very exciting, although I probably shouldn’t have yelled “shark.” Some guy said it sounded like a Dogfish shark.

 

After seeing the shark, it was time to get ready for the meet. I drank a v8, ate a banana, and put on my lucky banana socks. I’ve been wearing these socks since middle school. They are riddled with holes, some of which I tried to sew up. I was pretty darn nervous considering I had only been practicing for one semester since I was in Germany for the fall and didn’t know if I was back in good enough shape to do all the things. Also, I was worried that I wouldn’t make it to finals and this preliminary meet would be the last meet of my life. But I tried very hard not to think about that. Good thing it went well. I made all my routines and finished with the top all around for my session. Not too shabby! The rest of the team did ok, but I don’t think we had very high hopes for making it to finals. In the evening, we ate BBQ with a few fiends and parents. Then, Ashley and I walked on the beach and played ukulele.

Day 3: Walking in the Woods

My parents are literally the best. They have attended almost all except two or three meets of my whole college career. I hung out with them for most of our day off.

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We drove a little ways to a state park where we saw a very old live oak (500 years old!). Then walked around and enjoyed the plants and the lizards.

At 10 PM we had a group meeting because somehow A team made it to finals and we had to decide on lineups. This is  always a stressful and emotional process. In prelims, we can put eight girls up on an event, but in finals, only five girls compete so we have to cut two girls from each event. This means, we have to decide if we want to plan our lineups so that we have the best chance of winning or if we want everyone to compete what they want. As you can imagine, these two things don’t always align and we end up with unhappy people. So that took a while. Eventually, everything got (mostly) figured out and we all went to bed. Oh also, I had personally qualified to finals for bars, beam, floor, and all-around.

Day 4: Finals and Banquet

Finals is always exciting because there are so many of us and everyone is hyped up and it’s just a fun time. We marched in and stood there as they announced all of the different colleges and universities. It took quite a while. Then, as with every sporting event, it was time for the national anthem. But this was no ordinary national anthem. It was the national anthem played live on the harmonica. Definitely the best national anthem I’ve ever heard in my many years of competing. Before competition started, we were set to break a world record for the most back tucks done at one time. It took a while to get everything organized but in the end, we had like 500 people do it. Pretty exciting! Finally, it was time to compete.

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I had a solid meet, but nothing super spectacular. I made a little mistake on bars which I am still quite upset about since it was my last bar routine ever. On top of that, my scores seemed lower. At least, all my scores were at least three points lower than in prelims. We started on bars and finished on vault. On vault, a gymnast gets two chances. I absolutely hate vault and am pretty well-known for only ever doing one vault. “One and done” is my motto. But unfortunately for me, my first vault was absolutely terrible. Not wanting 20 years of gymnastics to end with the ugliest vault of all time, I had to do another. It was much better! But just like that, it was over. I got a big hug from my parents which made me tear up just a little. I didn’t do as well as I wanted to (as is often the case) but I hit all my routines.

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The banquet went about as well as every other time I guess. Most everyone (except Ashley and I) showed up late and clearly, um… without all their faculties. Unlike all the other years which had buffet-style service, this year they brought the food to you. Salads, bread, and desserts were already on the tables when we arrived which was nice. But it took a while for dinner to show up. My buddy Nate – talented gymnast and all-around nice dude – went around to all the tables taking their desserts while we waited for the main course. Finally, dinner came out. A little later than it probably should have, awards started. It was a long process. Longer than any other year because they added what is called the “community” division which is the new division that the alumni compete in so they are not competing with current students. As awards dragged on, the crowd thinned dramatically. Our people had to leave for one reason or another (you can speculate as to what those reasons were). And, of course, the divisions that I and my friends competed in were last. Our men’s team snagged a few individual awards which was exciting. I knew my scores were not good enough to place on the events but could still have a shot at all-around. At the end of a three-hour awards ceremony, I got called for 6th place in the all-around! I ran up and accepted my award and walked off and back to our seat. Level 9 team was next and we were pretty convinced that we weren’t placing. But, oh! PLOT TWIST. They called our name! There were a few of us left to accept the award. We were screaming and laughing at the hilarious situation.

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After a crazy and drawn-out night, it was all over. I’m so very happy that my gymnastics career of 20 years ended with a bang.

 

Thanks Gymnastics

I’d just like to thank all the people who helped and supported me along the way. You guys are all amazing 🙂 Gymnastics has been a large part of my identity for a great deal of my life and it’s weird that it’s over. Thanks to my many coaches who were incredibly patient (most of the time) and never gave up on me. Thanks to my parents and my poor sister for driving me to practice and coming to all my meets, even the boring ones when every gymnast did the exact same routine. Thanks to all my friends at Penn State club gym for general awesomeness and making me want to go to practice every day.

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Baltimore Site Visit

On February 1st, my studio went on a site visit to the Johnston Square neighborhood in Baltimore. We talked with the Parks & People foundation and residents about the area and design opportunities. It was awesome to listen to how passionate residence are about the neighborhood and I am super excited to design something that they might be able to use! After our meeting, we walked around the neighborhood. Here are some pics:

Career Fair

Two weeks ago was the Stuckeman School Career Fair. AKA the Most stressful, social-anxiety causing situation of my ’emerging professional’ life. At least they talk to me now that I’m a 4th year and not a 1st year. Anyway, it’s basically a bunch of important professionals standing around studio next to informational posters waiting for us to come up and ask about their firm. I really am not a fan of initiating conversations so I would just walk slowly by until one of the people asked me what my major was. It worked out pretty well.

JMU Meet

It’s meet season! Right after career fair, I got the late car down to JMU for the first gymnastics meet of the year. It was a decent meet, nothing too exciting. But I felt it warranted a mention on the ol’ blog. I did get to do my new floor routine which was very fun!

Birds Everywhere

I took my birds out of their cage! I can’t tell if they really liked flying around my apartment but they pooped on a minimal amount of stuff and I got some cute pics!

Pre-Fall Break

Hi everyone! First of all, Happy Thanksgiving!  But this is not my fall break post.  Anyway, Here is what went down since last time you looked at the internet:

Virginia Tech Meet

Yes, a fall meet. You remember the last time we went to a meet in the fall and the car I was in broke down half way to Syracuse? Well that didn’t happen this time. Which is good. Because we drove aaall the way down to Virginia Tech. It’s like six hours.

Being shuffled outside from the fire alarm

So we are at the meet, warming up when the fire alarm goes off. Hooray, we all get to stand outside in the cold. It wasn’t too bad though. We sang a bunch of songs and were generally very obnoxious while all the other teams kinda glared at us and some prospective student tours struggled to wade through the sea of warm-up clad gymnasts. Fifteen minutes later and we were back inside. The meet went well. Nothing spectacular. BUT Penn State Men and Women clenched first place for teams! Oh yeah! So that was fun. Also I won first place! Yay!

 

Hmm… What else…

Anonymous People Judging Me

We had our portfolio review “showcase” before break where all ofour portfolios are spread out on tables and everyone is invited to come write things that we need to fix on them. The only problem is that no one knows who wrote the comments so I don’t know whose advice to listen to and whose to ignore. Haha I’m kidding I listen to the criticism. I’m actually pretty happy with how my portfolio turned out. You can’t see it, however, because the internet crashed when I tried to upload it.

 

Ill-Advised Food Choices

Remember that place Momotaro that I wrote about last time. Well Logan and I went back there to get some of these cool chocolates that didn’t look edible but apparently were. They were pretty pricey at $2.50 each but we were curious. But as cool as they looked, they were just not worth the money.

Above you can see the two chocolates and the macaroon

On an unrelated note, my friend Haleigh had come over to my apartment to watch TV and we decided to eat a whole box of farafelle noodles with butter and shaky cheese. Here is a picture of that:

P.S. The header image is irrelevant to anything in this post. It’s just a cool leaf with water droplets.

 

Ohio Bound and Back Again: Nationals 2017

This year, nationals was held in Columbus, Ohio. We left for NAIGC Club Gymnastics Nationals on an unremarkable Wednesday last week. The drive was uneventful, arriving at the hotel around 11:00 PM after over five hours of driving and a quick pit stop at “Truck World.” Columbus seemed like a nice city, but it was hard to tell at first since the day I competed preliminaries was cold, windy, and wet. Preliminaries went well! Our level 9 session was on Thursday in the late afternoon. I qualified for bars, floor, and all around finals.

On my day off, I went to the Franklin Park Conservancy with my parents and uncle. So even though I wasn’t doing larch things, I was still looking at a bunch of plants haha. I’m so cool.

Finals rolls around and I will never not be amazed at how many gymnasts compete at nationals. It’s pretty cool when all the schools line up in the hall way and march in to the gym before finals starts. Here is a picture I took (and that’s only about a quarter of them):

Finals was very stressful because I was the only one from A team to qualify for finals so I was competing in a group with a few other individual competitors. This is stressful, mostly on bars and vault, because each gym typically has different settings for how far apart the bars are, how high the vault table is, how far the board is from the vault, and how many springs are in the springboard. Let me explain more why this is an issue. During a competition, each gymnast gets 2 minutes to warm up on an event. When a team is competing, that time gets combined so if there are 7 girls, we get 14 minutes total to warm up which is a decent amount of time and it is also shared. There is also no need to change bar settings because everyone goes on the same setting. In the scenario I was in, everyone had different settings which meant that if we combined all our time together, we’d have to change the bar settings every time someone else took a turn and that just isn’t very efficient. So instead, we all blocked our own time so I had two minutes by myself to warm up. It’s very tiring.

Anyway, it didn’t matter because guess what?!?!?! I got FIRST on bars!!!! Oh yeah. National champ right here! HAHA. I’m funny. I didn’t place on any of the other events but I still did pretty well and the fact that I got a first place makes up for everything.

So all in all, a good meet and an enjoyable time 🙂

You Can’t Spell “Gowanus” Without “Us”

On Friday the 17th, 33 sleepy LARCHies got on the red-eye bus to Brooklyn, New York to see the infamous Gowanus Canal. If you are unfamiliar with the canal, as many of us were before the trip, it is/was one of the most polluted waterways in North America. I mean, it’s seriously nasty. If you were wondering what sort of business we had being in Brooklyn, it is the site of the next project in our design studio. Here are some photos of lovely Gowanus. It was actually a very pleasant day.

Something interesting I learned during our analysis of the Canal: Besides being a superfund site full of gross chemicals, trash, and sludge, it is also stagnant so nothing ever washes out. There is also little to no dissolved oxygen, which aquatic life need to survive. To fix this problem, they installed a giant flushing tunnel which brings water from butter milk channel in the Hudson Bay to the head of the canal where it is forcefully pumped. It’s actually working, because dissolved oxygen content levels have increased. However, the force also stirs up all that grossness in the bottom and results in this weird foam:

And, here is a picture of garbage at the bottom of the canal as the tide was going out:

Mmmmm. Lovely.

Leaving was a lot worse than travelling up. We got stuck in downtown Manhattan for two hours before finally getting out of the city. Some of my friends fell asleep for those two hours and awoke to find we were still in NYC. We didn’t end up returning to campus until around 1:00. Unfortunately for me, I had a gymnastics meet the next day.

 

The Home Meet

The home meet went well! I did well enough to win the All Around so that’s good. I was definitely running entirely on adrenaline because the next day, I was so sore that I walked like a hunch back who’d just gotten off a horse! haha! It wasn’t actually that bad. My cool friends also made an appearance with their funny signs:

A Whirlwind of Weather

What a roller coaster of weather! Wednesday night last week it snowed 8 inches! It was so magical that the university actually delayed classes until 10:00! Obviously we were hoping for a cancellation but whatever, I guess I can trek through the snow to get to class. (just kidding I took the bus). Then, two days later, it was a sweltering 60 degrees (or something ridiculous). Nearly all the snow has melted and now it’s raining. Of course, I was in beautiful sunny Virginia for a gymnastics meet.

 

jmu_02jmu_01Yes, finally competition season is in full swing. The Club Gymnastics team drove down to James Madison University for our first meet of the year! It was chaotic to say the least. But at least my lovely parents and my sister (who tagged along to surprise me despite being sick) were there :). We didn’t do too shabby! Girls A team placed 2nd and Men’s team placed 1st!!! Woo! I myself also did pretty well, having a no-fall meet and placing 1st on bars, 5th on beam (somehow?!) and 2nd in the all around!

This weekend is THON! And Penn State students are getting antsy to dance their pants off and stay awake and standing for much longer than any doctor would recommend. This year, PSUkulele gets to perform during the 46 hours of non-stop festivities! I am not performing because I forgot to audition but I am still very excited!!!

If you are curious as to why I haven’t talked much about studio this semester, it is because we have all been in a state of constant confusion since the beginning of the semester.

Also, in my photography class I took a very nice picture of Parsley.

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What Not to do at Football Game

The following message is brought to you by the Beaver Stadium student cleanup crew.

Yes, if you haven’t guess already, I had the dreaded stadium clean up a few weekends ago. Luckily for us, they ordered the wrong colored streamers for the game so there were no streamers to clean up. Haha. Anyway. No rant today. Just a few lovely pictures of the worst things you could possibly leave behind for us poor college students to clean up.

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Here you can see the contents of a typical bleacher row. This may include, but is not limited to: Empty plastic soda cups, used napkins, unused napkins, bottles of water, ponchos, french fries, wax paper wrappers, bags of chips, and uneaten nacho cheese.

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Don’t leave your open cups of hot chocolate on the stadium floor. It will inevitably spill and the push brooms we are supplied with are not good at cleaning up spills.

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Open mustard packets are one of my LEAST favorite things to clean up. The smell is just so so pungent in the most horrifying, unpleasant way. Picking them up is awful and any attempt to sweep them up causes a streak of mustard across the ground. Please throw these away.

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And please, please, PLEASE do NOT leave your bottles full of gross chewing tobacco that you so graciously spit into a bottle and not on the ground. If you partake in such a habit, have the courtesy not leave it in the stadium. Also, please no spitting directly on the ground. That is also gross.

Finally, not pictured but just as unappreciated: Shelled peanuts on the ground, spilled popcorn, soggy chicken tenders, and of course, the dreaded streamers.

Thank you for listening.