Ashley Postell, 2002 World Balance Beam Champion and former Univeristy of Utah star.

Briley Casanova, junior WOGA gymnast with a very bright future.

Shayla Worley, contender for the 2008 Olympic Team and current University of Georgia competitor.

Ashley Postell

Ashley Postell

Ashley’s Responses-

1. You completed an extremely successful career at the University of Utah. What made you choose Utah? What makes Greg Marsden such a successful coach?

I chose Utah because I knew I could be successful here. When I went on my official visit, I did not want to go back home. I wanted to start right then and there. Everything is beautiful here in Salt Lake City and I fell in love with the coaches and gymnasts. Greg is a great coach and knows what he is talking about. He started the program here at Utah, so he has experience with what the program needs and how it should be run. I enjoyed my four years and miss it deeply.

2. What were the biggest differences between training elite and training at Utah? What were the pros and cons of each?

The biggest differences were how much we trained and how often. In elite I trained six days a week that included three, two a days. In college, I trained six days a week with four days being gymnastics and two of the days being just cardio and weight lifting. Also, the hours of training are less in college than in elite by around 15 hours. I do not think there are any cons about either training styles. The hours put in for elite are necessary to be successful at that level and when competing every weekend in college, less hours are more realistic.

3. What was your favorite part of participating in the post Olympic tour? Do you have any funny stories?

I do not have one favorite part about the tour. I enjoyed all of it! It was exciting to travel all over the U.S. and be able to perform gymnastics in a way that is not the norm. It was a great experience for me and a great way to end my gymnastics career. In the end everyone was sad because it meant that we all had to go back to our normal lives again, but if I had a chance to do it again I wouldn’t hesitate. A funny story I have is when we had our last show. The last show is typically the prank show. At the end of the show us girls did not realize what the boys were up to all day. Little did we know they had spent time putting together their version of pie to throw at us. There was whip cream and I don’t even know what else all over everyone and all over the floor. It was a mess, but fun! Another story I have is when Sam and I were practicing our partner cartwheels during intermission. They were a disaster! We finally got them right and I was excited, so I told Sam, “We’re doing it! We’re doing it!” She laughed so hard that she dropped me on my face in the middle of a cartwheel for everyone to see! I still love her though.

4. What is the MIOBI set like? What is an average day like? How did you end up with the job?

The make it or break it set was really cool! I’ve never seen a set before and it is pretty hectic. Cameras are everywhere along with everyone invloved with directing, producing the show and etc. A normal day can be rough, especially because I am not a morning person. We had to be on set by around 6:30 – 7:00 am most mornings for call time. We would eat when we got there, went to make-up and wardrobe, and then warmed-up. After we warmed-up we usually had to wait around until we were needed for a specific scene. When we were needed, it was only for a few minutes. So, there was a lot of sitting around at times and it was difficult to stay warm. After everything was shot and it was time to go home, it would be around midnight. Long hours were typical for the days we worked. Since I finished my eligibility for Utah, the MIOBI show was looking for gymnasts, I got lucky to be able to be a part of this and not break any NCAA rules.

5. You were unable to compete in the World Championships in 2003 because of illness. Were you at home during this time? What emotions did you have not being able to compete in this meet?

During this time I was still present at the meet. It was important for everyone to be supportive of the team no matter what and I am glad I was able to be there for the girls. It was very hard to sit back and watch. I am not very good at sitting back and just watching. I coach now and just watching the girls I coach makes me want to flip around. It was extremely difficult, but I was still a part of the team whether I competed or not and I got to share that experience with everyone.

Briley Casanova

Briley Casanova

Briley’s Responses-

1.) Can you describe a day in the life of a WOGA gymnast? What kind of conditioning and training do you do?

A typical day at gym is from 8:00-11:30 a.m.. I go to school from 12:30-3:00 p.m., and then back to the gym from 4:00-7:00 p.m. We do upper body conditioning in the mornings on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, trampoline on Thursday mornings, and leg conditioning on Tuesday afternoons and Friday mornings. Tuesday is the day my teammates and I do conditioning twice a day.

2.) What were Classics like? Was it hard competing in a session with seniors? I mean, you competed with Nastia, Rebecca and Ivana on your team, did that add any pressure? Was it hard to perform when you knew your routines were being broadcast on live national TV?

Classics was a great experience for me to compete along with the Seniors. It especially helped me prepare a little for next year, when I will be old enough to compete as a senior. At first, I was a little nervous competing with them, but then I got comfortable with it. It was an inspiring experience. I didn’t notice any major pressure around the seniors, because I see them every day. Performing on live national television was also exciting to me. I was focused on competing, so I wasn’t very nervous about it, and I knew that I would be doing the same thing at VISA’s in a few weeks.

3.) What are your short and long term gymnastic goals? What are your short and long term gymnastic goals?

Some of my short term goals for gymnastics include, staying in shape and healthy for competition season coming up, and upgrading some of my routines with bigger skills. One long term gymnastics goal for me is getting a college scholarship. I would also like an opportunity to represent the United States at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

4.) What is training with Laurent and Cecile Landi like? How do they compare to other WOGA coaches (like Valeri and Anna)?

I look to Laurent and Cecile for guidance every day in gymnastics. They are very experienced and know how to teach the sport. They have helped me reach my goals and have gotten me through some very challenging times with skills. Anna was my level four coach and I learned a lot from her. It was a fun time and she inspired me to continue in gymnastics! I currently go to Karolyi’s once a month with team members and Valeri. He is firm and supportive and I also learn a lot from him. They are all very determined, supportive and focused coaches!

5.) Do you have any funny stories about WOGA, or funny gymnastics experiences that you’ve had?

When I was a level five, I was extremely nervous about going into an invitational competition. Before even walking into the gym with my dad, I started to cry. I kept telling him I didn’t want to compete because I was nervous and I didn’t want to walk inside the gym. My dad talked to me outside of the competition entrance. I wouldn’t move, literally. So, my dad called my mom who was out of town and talked with her about what I should do. My dad talked to me nicely again, telling me that my mom wished me luck and believed in me. I ended up deciding to go inside and competing. I think it is funny now because I really like to perform in front of people! I can walk into competitions and feel confident about my routines. I am so lucky to have parents that support and take care of me every day.

Shayla Worley

Shayla Worley

Shayla’s Responses-

1 .Outside of the Olympics, do you feel you accomplished most of what you wanted to in your elite career? Do you have any regrets?

When I look back on my elite career I have no regrets. I pushed myself as far as possible and put fourth every once of effort I had to turn my talent into success. I represented my country in many competitions and there is nothing more gratifying then wearing the red white and blue while the national anthem plays. It took a whole team of people including my family and coaches, to whom I owe much of my success.

2. What was your daily schedule like when you trained elite? What is your schedule like now at Georgia?

During the school year when I was training elite, I had gym from 7-9am.I went to a public school from 9:30-1. Physical therapy on Tuesday/Thursday. Then a second practice from 2 to whenever I finished, usually around 6 or 7.

Now, I have class from 9-12 then practice from 1-5. On Wednesdays we have cardio at 6:30 am and Saturday conditioning at 9:00. Between class, tutor, meetings, and gym, I am always busy, but it’s great!

3. Do you still keep in contact and meet up with your USA elite teammates?

I do try and stay in contact with all the girls and updated on what is happening in the elite world. Especially Nast and Sam. We talk, text, or ichat daily. Although we are states apart, we are very much apart of each others lives.

4. I heard that you “snuck into” the Olympic Village? What was that like?

Haha. Yes, because it took 24 hours to get a pass to go in the Olympic Village and we didn’t know. The Village was really amazing. Every single person walking around was one of the best at their sport in their country. I felt like I became a stronger athlete just walking around and wished the talent would rub off on me! The food court was definitely my favorite building. They had lines with food types based on regions such as Mediterranean, Asian, ect. It was easily the side of three football fields. Now that I am in college, the Olympic Village is similar to our dorms and dinning hall but on a much grander scale.

5. You’ve spent a number of years training with Jeff. How do you think he compares to other top elite coaches? In retrospect, do you feeling training at Orlando Metro was the best decision for you? Can you describe what Jeff was like as a coach?

Jeff and I were a great match. He definitely has an aggressive coaching style which great worked for me. He’s quite the character, always cracking a joke or ten during practice. Jeff is very quick to let someone know when they aren’t meeting is expectations but just as quick to recognize a job well done.

With his numerous elite gymnast, he is without a doubt one of the top elite coach and I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to train under him. The number of coaches with his knowledge and experience is rare and I lucked out living only 30 min away from the gym. I couldn’t imagine not growing up at Orlando Metro. It was the place for me, and no matter what, I will always be a Metro kid.

Upcoming: Chellsie Memmel and Cassie Whitcomb.