Red Rocks share leadership

By Bryan Chouinard, Staff Writer

Looking to their fourth and final year of eligibility, Utah seniors Kristina Baskett and Nina Kim could not be more excited to get the season under way.

As the only seniors on the team, Baskett and Kim might be looked at as the leaders by fans. However, inside the gym, the whole team is taking that responsibility. As the squad prepares for the challenging schedule that lies ahead, there are no plans to anoint designated captains at this time.

“We might just keep it as a team thing because it’s going really well,” Kim said.

For years, the Red Rocks have been appointing a team captain, until last season when they decided to stray from convention.

“The best thing me and Nina can do is set the example,” Baskett said. “Be strong in the gym and get our stuff done. We need to set a good example for people to look up to.”

This will be more important than ever for Utah. Because of Stephanie Neff’s back injury, every Red Rock will be expected to step up when her name is called.

“We only have 11 girls on the team so we need to have everyone on board,” Kim said. “But I think we’re on the right track. The bond we have as a team helps a lot.”

It’s that bond that might be Utah’s biggest strength heading into the season. With a lot of work still to be done before the season kicks off, the Red Rocks attribute a lot of their success to the fact that they get along so well, whether they’re in the gym or not.

“We’re all really excited this year because we have some really good chemistry on the team,” Baskett said. “There’s an uplifting spirit this year, and we’re having fun in the gym, which I think is an important factor because we do our best when we’re having fun.”

The gymnastics team’s chemistry has made spending time in the gym more fun and more productive as well. The friendships made outside the gym have benefitted the team’s performance when it’s time to get serious and go to work.

“We know each other more personally, and that way we’re more comfortable with each other,” Kim said. “If we’re in the gym and having trouble, we’re able to push each other; it’s just a great atmosphere.”

With this being Baskett and Kim’s fourth go-around at preparing for the grind ahead, they know exactly what it takes to get ready for the season. Freshmen don’t have such an advantage, but will need to learn on the fly because of the size of the current roster.

“We really need the freshmen on board,” Baskett said. “Especially since we only have 11 girls this year. They are here for a reason. That’s why they got a scholarship.”

While there is no questioning the work ethic or talent of the short-handed squad, the real question on the minds of fans and coaches is, “Can the team stay injury-free throughout the year?”

“Everyone brings something to the table, but something we have to look out for is staying healthy,” Baskett said. “With six girls in the lineup, if anybody gets hurt or is sick, we’re going to need to go to those seventh and eighth spots, which means everybody needs to be ready.”

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