Feb. 23, 2006
Stanford, Ca - It is Friday night, and as the clock ticks towards 7:30 p.m, another large, enthusiastic crowd is filing into Burnham Pavilion for an evening of women's gymnastics at Stanford University.
The Cardinal has enjoyed another memorable season, and for three graduating seniors, Friday's meet against Washington will be their final home regular season meet. Natalie Foley, Jessica Louie and Glyn Sweets have helped Stanford to two NCAA championship appearances (2003, 2004), an NCAA Super Six appearance (2004) and Pac-10 and NCAA Regional titles in 2004. Gymnastics is a tough, demanding sport, and since an early age, Foley, Louie and Sweets have worked extremely hard to become championship student-athletes. All three competitors are highly respected for being great representatives for Stanford, not only on the field of competition but in the classroom as well.
Natalie Foley, Senior, Englewood, Co
No other gymnast in Stanford history other than Lindsay Wing (nine All-American honors) and Lise Leveille (eight All-American honors) has accumulated as many All-American honors as Natalie Foley. Foley has tallied eight All-American awards, and will certainly be remembered as one of the all-time greats in school history. Foley captured the NCAA Regional Vault title twice (2003, 2004) in addition to winning the regional crown in the All-Around and Bars in 2004. Foley also won the Pac-10 title in the all-Around, Vault and Bars in 2004, and holds the school record on Vault with a perfect 10.000 in 2004 and the All-Around (39.825, 2004).
When the seniors are honored at Friday's home meet of the year, Foley will remember the great times she has experienced while competing at Stanford.
"Wow, I truly can't believe this is my last home meet in Burnham Pavilion," said Foley. "The four years have flown by and I feel so blessed to have had this experience with so many incredible people by my side. I will be thinking about how thankful I am for my parents and fiance Trent Wiesen (who played water polo at Stanford), how much I love my coaches and teammates, and how thankful I am for the fans who support us so faithfully and who have become my friends in many cases."
Competing for athletic awards is certainly an important aspect of the Stanford experience, but for Foley, the experience goes far beyond the gymnasium.
"Competing for Stanford Gymnastics has greatly affected my life over the past four years," said Foley who will graduate with a degree in Human Bilogy with a concentration in adolescent development. "I have learned so much about myself and life. I have made friends that will last a lifetime who are like sisters to me. I have had such a blast going through the ups and downs and the physical and emotional pain and joy of gymnastics. I have had a blast competing with all my teammates, traveling with them, spending lots of time together, laughing and crying together but definitely laughing way more than crying. I have learned how to compete under pressure with joy and confidence instead of fear or timidity. I have learned the value, power, and importance of team work. I have seen how powerful and infectious it is when a group of people come together with positive energy and determination to achieve a goal. I have grown to truly love and appreciate all of my teammates and coaches and all of the people who make it possible for us to do what we do. I have learned the value of hard work, determination, discipline, confidence, mental toughness, passion, and a positive attitude through all circumstances. In short, It has been a sheer joy to compete for Stanford Gymnastics."
Yes, there is life after gymnastics. Certainly, Foley will miss the team and individual achievements she has enjoyed at Stanford, but life takes a person down many avenues. Foley is ready for the challenge ahead. Foley plans on getting married to former Stanford water polo Trent Wiesen on July 8.
"We are both going to work on campus next year interning with one of the Christian fellowship groups here," said Foley. "We will be helping plan different service projects in East Palo Alto and in this area, as well as some possible mission trips. We will also hang out with the students to mentor them and just be a support to them. I am so excited about that."
Foley's career will certainly be remembered for her athletic talents in gymnastics, and for contributions to the fabric of Stanford University.
"After my career is over, I would like to be remembered as someone who brought joy, energy, and encouragement to the team and someone who always had a good attitude. I want to be remembered as someone who truly cared about my teammates and was always there for them."
Natalie Foley file
Since coming to Stanford, I have learned: so many things. I have learned a lot of stuff academically. I have learned what it means to be a team and how to work together as a team. I have learned a lot about who I am and what makes me tick.
Best book I have ever read: The Bible or the Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers
Favorite food: Eggplant parmesan, good soup, ice cream (and all of my mom's yummy cooking)
If I had to cook all of my meals, I'd probably survive on: soup, oatmeal, salad, yogurt, cereal, fruit
My favorite move: Dumb and Dumber, Tommy Boy, Best in Show, The Passion, Gladiator, The Patriot
The person or people who have had the greatest influence in my career: My mom and dad. They have given me so much love and support throughout my gymnastics career. They have helped me keep everything in perspective, have always let me know that my worth is not based on my performance, and have loved me no matter what. My dad gave me so much advice and wisdom on sports and the mental aspects of overcoming hard times.
If I could invite three people to dinner in history, they would be: Jesus, the apostle Paul, and Dallas Willard
Jessica Louie, Senior, Loomis, Ca
During her four years, Jessica Louie has contributed to the ever growing tradition in women's gymnastics. Through the years, Louie has worked extremely hard to help achieve her individual goals and help the Cardinal become one of the top collegiate programs in the country. Louie has succeeded, and now as she is being honored as one of Stanford's outstanding seniors at Friday's meet against Washington, she will look back at the great times competing for the Cardinal.
"I am 100 percent sure that my life would be drastically different if it weren't for gymnastics," said Louie, who will graduate with a degree in Human Biology. " These past four years have been absolutely wonderful and I'm not sure what I'm going to do with all the time I'll have once I'm done with gymnastics. I've had so many wonderful experiences that so many other students aren't able to experience, just being on a team is different, it's like a built in family. Gymnastics has taught me self dicipline, time management, and so many other things."
Academics has played an important role in Louie's life as well as her gymnastics career. Louie plans to put her Stanford degree to work, but first she plans on catching her breath, and seeing where life takes her.
"As of now I'm planning on letting myself be blown around by the wind," said Louie. "My future plans are very much up in the air and tend to change on a weekly basis. Traveling would be nice, but I'm not sure I'll have the "means" to do that right out of college."
One thing is certain, when Jessica's name is announced on Friday night, an appreciative crowd will applaude with approval for a job well done.
"I would like to be remembered as being a great contributor to the progress of our gymanstics program and as someone who really enjoyed what they did appreciating the place I was in."
Jessica Louie file
The athlete I admire most: There isn't one person that I admire, it's more of the qualities of a great athlete that I admire - passion, dedication, love for their sport and determination to not give up when they run into an obstacle.
Best book I have ever read: I've read so many but one of my favorite authors is Toni Morrison
Favorite food: Chocolate - it should be its own food group
My favorite movie: It changes every time I see a new one but for now it's Crash. I also love musicals
Favorite actor: Denzel Washington, and of course Brad Pitt (can't get past that hot body...)
Favorite actress: Catherine Zeta-Jones. She's a very classy woman
The best advice I ever received was: forget what happened in the past and work with what you have now
I'd like to switch plans for a day with: Queen Elizabeth. She always looks like she's having some fun
Glyn Sweets, Senior, Reston, Va
This talented senior gymnast has not been a stranger to success at Stanford. Glyn Sweets is a two-time All-American (Vault & Beam) and like the other two seniors, Natalie Foley and Jessica Louie, has contributed to Stanford's ever growing respect in collegiate gymnastics. Four years of competition at the collegiate level have gone by quickly, and Sweets can't believe this will be her final home regular season meet when she competes on Friday night against the Washington Huskies at Burnham Pavilion.
"When my name is announced on Friday night, I suppose the biggest thing going through my head will be how crazy it is that I'm participating in my last competition ever in Burnham Pavilion, one of only a few gymnastics competitions left in my lifetime. I have been doing gymnastics since I was seven years old, and it is a weird feeling to be nearing the end of that road. I know I'll be so grateful to have so many people I love out there supporting me in the stands."
According to Sweets, competing in the Stanford gymnastics program has played a major role in her college experience.
"Undoubtedly, it's a huge time commitment, first of all...but more than that, it has introduced me to an incredible group of girls, and taught me about leadership and how easily gymnastics can evolve into a team sport," said Sweets. "Yes, it has been difficult to balance school with gymnastics at times, but learning to manage the two has helped me grow as a person and in turn learn more about myself. There are so many moments I won't forget...winning two All-American honors my freshman year was a highlight, and then even just being a part of that energy that carried us through Nationals our sophomore year was incredible. There are endless inside jokes and great memories. And I don't know what I'd do without Nat (Natalie Foley) and Lou (Jessica Louie) ...though I may be biased, I don't think Kristen (head coach Kristen Symth) could have picked a better group of girls in terms of how well we get along and work together for her first recruiting class."
Although her future plans are not etched in stone, Sweets will no doubt succeed in what endeavor she pursues.
"I am majoring in English with a concentration in race and ethnicity, and if all goes well, I would love to stick around for a fifth year and co-term in Sociology. I love to write, and eventually I'd like to do something in the field of journalism or business."
Like Foley and Louie, the many contributions that Sweet has given to the Stanford University will be remembered. "After my Stanford career is over, I would like to be remembered as...a sweet person who was always fun to be around, good at flipping around, and a great friend...oh yeah, and smart too."
No argument here. Good luck Glyn!!!
Glyn Sweets file
Since coming to Stanford, I have learned: To work hard and take full advantage of the opportunity we've been given. To be a part of the athletic program here and earn a Stanford degree is an incredible thing.
Best book I have ever read: Theie Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
My Favorite Class: Hemingway, Hurston, Faulkner, and Fitzgerald (English, 2004), and Mapping and Wrapping the Body
Favorite Food: Everything, but especially Thai and anything my mom or grandma makes. And ice cream.
My favorite movie: Love and Basketball; The Shawshank Redemption
Favorite actor: Denzel Washington
Favorite actress: Sanaa Lathan
The person or people who have had the greatest influence in my career: My parents - they have sacrificed to much for me and supported my decisions throughout my life in gymnastics, and helped me become a better person in and out of the gym - as well as Kelli Hill and all of my club teammates and coaches.
If I could invite three people to dinner in history, they would be: Martin Luther King Jr, Boris Kodjoe, and Toni Morrison
My advice to youngsters: Don't ever take anything for granted and live life doing the things you enjoy. Never settle.
If I had one CD to listen to it would be: Acoustic Soul by India Arie One wish I would make for the 21st century: World peace ... and competent leadership for our country