Feb. 29, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford sophomore Chris Turner was a 2011 All-American on pommel horse as a freshman. The Fremont, Calif. native sat down to discuss his road to The Farm, spending time catching reptiles and the rituals he performs before meets.
How did you get to Stanford?
"You could say it was a lifelong dream to go to Stanford. My dad went to school here and when I was in fifth grade I was really gung-ho about Stanford, I had a Stanford hat that I wore every day. When I got to high school and recruiting started I applied and went on all my trips and ended up here. Thom (Glielmi) called me the first day coaches could start recruiting and told me he was interested in having me on the team. The Stanford recruiting process was completely different from all of the other schools I was looking at because Thom was looking at gymnasts based on who could get in academically and all the other schools were looking for who they wanted on the team. He was a little more distant at first until he knew I could get in. As soon as I was accepted he let me know they wanted me and I came over for a visit."
What other sports did you play growing up?
"I played baseball through my sophomore year of high school and the decision to stop playing to focus on gymnastics was difficult because I had been playing baseball much longer than I had been doing gymnastics and it was my first athletic love. My original dream was to have my name on a jersey and I always thought it would be a baseball jersey somewhere. I got into gymnastics and started doing well and the seasons conflicted. Near the end of my baseball career I was only going to five or six games a season so I wouldn't miss gymnastics meets. It got to the point where I was doing better with gymnastics than baseball and I knew where my future was."
What role have your parents played in your gymnastics career?
"My parents have meant everything to me. They've invested the time, took time off of work to travel and did everything in the best interest of the kids. If it was important to us they were willing to take the time, pay the tuition, and it meant a lot because it gave me an opportunity to be successful doing what I love. When I was little, I was doing my own gymnastics, climbing on everything, and when I was seven we got something in the mail for a free one-day trial at the local gym in Fremont. My parents took my over there where I could climb on stuff in a relatively safe environment and it just went from there. Coming to Stanford has really sparked my dad's old school spirit. He's coming to the football and baseball games now. I was always really close with my parents but gymnastics has started conversations between us that have led to talking about other things that we probably wouldn't have talked to them about."
What pets do you have?
"I've always been an animal person, especially with lizard and snakes. There were a lot of little blue-belly lizards where I lived, but the weirdest things I caught were two black widow spiders that I caught in my gym and kept as pets. I have a Mexican Black King snake now that's at my parent's house. My dad feeds it. My mom was afraid we would get fined for having pets in the dorms so I don't have it here. I really want to go to Florida with John Martin and hunt alligators with him, I was bummed I missed the trip that some of my teammates made out there."
What rituals do you go through before meets?
"I have to shave before every meet. That started when I was at the VISA National Championships one year and I was getting a little scruffy. I shaved and that year I made the national team and took third in the country. I also have a doorknob in my gym bag that I touch before every meet. I was wandering around the creek in Fremont one day and found a doorknob. I brought it to gym one day and it stayed in my gym bag. When I went to a competition I was playing with it and I did well so I had to keep the doorknob in my bag. I check for my doorknob before I got to meets, butI got a weird look last year going through airport security with it."
How have your coaches influenced you over the years?
"My club coach and Thom are completely different. Vince Miller was all about believing in yourself. He would tell me I had the potential and skills to go out there and show people what I could do. If I didn't hit a routine he was very supportive. With Thom, you have to hit the routines. He's more like `let's see what you got' rather than `you can do it.' Up until the end of high school, Vince's style really helped me; I needed that confidence boost. I always felt like the underdog because I'm not the most gymnastically talented person out there and I needed that extra motivation. Now, Thom and Brett McClure's style works great for me. You boost your confidence through your own gymnastics. With the training schedule how it is, you work and get consistent in the gym and that gives you confidence. When I first got here, the practices wore me out. The second day I was here I threw up at in the gym. I learned not to eat a ton before practice."
If you had a day when you couldn't train or do schoolwork, what would you do?
"We don't' have practice today and I was going to watch the baseball game and relax. Last spring all I wanted to do was go find the salamanders at Lake Lag. I just want to be outside, maybe get a tan."