Dreams have the ability to push, inspire and help people become who they want to become. For Kim Tessen, University of Utah gymnast, joining the Red Rocks has been a dream come true – even though she grew up cheering for in-state rival, BYU.
“It was so amazing,” Tessen said. “I always dreamt about it growing up, I came to the meets and stuff. My mom went to BYU, so I kind of grew up a BYU fan, but I would always come to Utah gymnastics meets, and their fan base was so big and the meets were so much fun. I always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to be a Red Rock, so it’s really cool that I’m here now.”
Tessen had hopes of competing in the Olympics, but she realized that might not be the route meant for her to take. Her main focus has been to put in the work to become the best athlete she can and then watch her hard work pay off. All the time and effort she put into gymnastics finally came together when she received a scholarship to not only earn a degree but to compete collegiately at Utah.
As a student-athlete, school is a priority. Tessen has learned to communicate with professors about when she will be out of town for competitions and how to prioritize her academic responsibilities so she can be successful at the gym. Co-head coach Megan Marsden, who was also a Red Rock, knows how demanding a student-athlete’s schedule can be, and she wants to use what she has learned over the years to help add to the experience of being on the team.
“Our program is all encompassing and we take every aspect as being very important, and sometimes it’s some of the smaller things that you and I would think are smaller, that are a big deal to the girls,” Marsden said. “I try to keep that in mind, and with my set of older eyes at this point, I still try to remember back to some of what is really fun and exciting about being involved in this program.”
Marsden said that being on the team requires dedication not only to the sport but also to academics. This means being competitive inside and outside of practices.
“We start with really good gymnastics, it is an athletic scholarship and it is about can you come and do high-level gymnastics for the University of Utah?” Marsden said. “That is first and foremost. But, we also take their academics extremely seriously, and we know that part of our job when we bring them to Utah is for them to get a degree and prepare. With our sport, they’re preparing for life after gymnastics. It’s not something that will go on and carry them through their adult years with paying bills.”
Tessen has learned that being a member of the Red Rocks is special not only because of what she is learning but because of the team aspect.
“I think being part of something bigger than myself. In club and even elite gymnastics, is a very individual sport, and then you come to college and it’s all about the team,” Tessen said. “I think that’s really great to be able to contribute to something more than myself.”