Feb. 15, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. - In his first season of competition at Stanford, Paul Hichwa was part of a team that won a national championship with Hichwa competing primarily on high bar while gaining some experience on floor exercise. The redshirt sophomore from Iowa City, Iowa sat down to discuss how he made it to The Farm, what he does when he's not in the gym and carrying on the tradition of Stanford gymnastics.
How has the team changed from last season?
"A lot of seniors left last year and this year it's up to us to step up and fill those spots. It's a lot more responsibility and pressure on us than last year. With a smaller team this year, a lot of the guys are expected to be ready to compete in any event we do. Last year I focused on high bar, this year I'm also doing floor and vault as well as working on parallel bars.
How did you end up at Stanford?
"Cameron Foreman went to the same gym as me; we grew up together, trained together and went to the same high school. He went to Stanford and that motivated me being a year behind him. When I got in Stanford was my number one choice for gymnastics and academics so coming here was an easy decision. I'm from Iowa City where the University of Iowa is and it's a pretty liberal place. At Stanford, everyone is really motivated to accomplish things where Iowa City is a little more laid back. The winters are much different too. I was pretty set on leaving town to go to school and get a different experience to expand my horizons. I may return for graduate school, but I like this area a lot and I would have a hard time leaving. As a bioengineering major, I have a lot of options when I graduate."
What effect has the coaching staff had on you?
"Thom (Glielmi) is super experienced, he's coached all levels of gymnastics from little kids to Olympians and his knowledge and experience make it great to work with him. He's very motivational. Brett (McClure) has Olympic experience and knows what it's like to compete, to have the nerves before a competition. Brett's a little more technical than Thom and that helps me learn new skills. The combination of those two is a good combination. Having Alex Buscaglia and Ryan Lieberman around training for the Olympics isn't much different than last year. They're still in the gym setting an example and helping out when they can."
What do you do when you're not training?
"A couple of us went to Florida to visit John (Martin) and Gabriel (Alvarado) and that was definitely a different experience for me. I had never gone hunting before, and it was alligator hunting of all things. When I'm not in the gym, I do school. That's what takes up pretty much all my time when I'm not training. My teammates and I spend so much time together in the gym that we've become really close friends and ultimately brothers. When I'm home, I try to spend as much time with my family as I can."
What role has your family played in your life?
"My parents have always been extremely supportive no matter what I do. They've given me the opportunity to develop in and out of the gym. They took care of all the classes and all the expenses that came with gymnastics, driven me to practice every day for years and I'm indebted to them for that. My dad encouraged me to try a lot of different sports and activities and it narrowed down to gymnastics after a while. I have two sisters who have been great as well. My old coach, Brad Virkler, was also extremely influential and supportive of my gymnastics career."