Feb. 3, 2011
STANFORD, Calif. - All-Pac-10 gymnast Allyse Ishino talks about the origins of her memorable floor routine and some of the aspects that makes the Stanford women's gymnastics team so unique, and so good.
Q: You have a unique floor routine that you choreographed yourself and includes all the required elements over two tumbling passes rather than three. Are judges warming up to it?
A: I have the same routine I had last year and I actually scored better in our first meet this year. Hopefully, that's a sign that I am getting more respect for my two tumbling passes and my dance. I'm still working on an add, hopefully, by the end of the season. That will increase the difficulty of my routine in general. For now, it's the same routine and I scored higher. Hopefully, that's an indication of its acceptance.
Q: How did you come up with the moves?
A: (Coach) Kristen (Smyth) chose the music and I chose which version I wanted. When I do dancing and choreographing, I listen to the music and just start moving. It's a lot of trial and error type stuff. It took me a while to figure it out because I'm very particular about the moves. But she was the one who started the whole process.
Q: You said this is one of the most rewarding things you've ever done in gymnastics, to bring out that routine in front of the home crowd for the first time.
A: It definitely was, because floor is one of my favorite events. I love performing, I love dancing. I haven't been able to connect my tumbling passes and combine them with my dance until last year. When I first did it, I was really hesitant on my last pass -- and I made it, so that was like the best part. Combining all of that and performing in front of our home crowd was really exciting.
Q: How tough is it to get all those requirements into those two passes? How strong do you have to be to pull that off?
A: It wasn't too bad. I had to learn a new pass last year, but it wasn't too difficult to pick up. And then it was just building up endurance so I could end with a significantly more difficult pass at the end. Fortunately, my lead pass gives me a lot of bonus points.
Q: Last year, after health issues limited you early in your collegiate career, you've became a very durable gymnast. Do you feel as if your body is in tune right now?
A: I guess so. Knock on wood. The first two years were a little rough, but it taught me a lot about myself and how I work. I do feel as if I'm picking up where I left off last year.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish in your fifth year?
A: Obviously, we want to win a national championship. I'll do everything I can to help us do that. That would be the greatest reward in the end. Just helping my teammates realize how fun this experience is. That's the most important thing, because they're going to remember that the rest of their lives. It's going to help them with everything they do. So, just taking the most out of every situation that we're put in and being thankful for the people we're around every day.
Q: How tough was the transition from elite gymnast to being part of a team dynamic, and how do you try to help those are going through that process for the first time?
A: It wasn't the greatest thing that I redshirted my freshman year, but I think I was able to learn it pretty quickly because I was able to take a step back and watch everyone. That was really great, being able to see the importance of all the little things that we do, like being there ready with hot packs and water, and moving mats. These are very simple things that are very important for the team, and cheering and stuff like that.
I think I picked it up pretty quickly. In helping other girls with the transition from elite to college, it's about being able to let go all the things you do as an elite - like doing a crazy amount of numbers and focusing too much on yourself. Just kind of telling them I've been in the same exact situation and it's way more fun to be part of a team. Also, let go of all that pressure, because, really all of your teammates have your back and they're ready to support you. You don't really have to worry about so much perfection. Just have a good time with your team. I think I learned that later on to not put so much pressure on myself. But the excitement of being on a team, I learned that my freshman year.
Q: Does that added dimension create a whole different feeling for the sport that you would have missed?
A: Definitely. It's not a bad thing that I had to redshirt my freshman year. It turned out pretty well.
Q: What does the team's early success mean in the long run?
A: We've been talking about how we're the most prepared we've ever been for our first meet. The fact that we did so well builds us up with so much confidence. We still have to work on it throughout the season, but we started at a very high point. So, building up from there will allow us to go even higher this season. Confidence is something that our team's always been working on, and sometimes lags a little bit. But having this starting point is really great for us, because at the end of the season when we go up against great teams like UCLA and SEC teams, we will have that confidence and that will help us to not doubt ourselves ever.
Q: What is the craziest workout you've ever seen here - importing the men's volleyball team to heckle you, moving the balance beam into the hallway with the rowers, or something else?
A: The heckling helps us a lot. Kristen usually changes things in different ways. Having the beam out in the hallway is interesting. It's not the same atmosphere we're used to. Even the temperature is different, it's cold out there. There are all these things around you. There's a skylight above you, so it's really bright.
Q: Does it help?
A: I think it does help. When you get to meets, you've done it any place you can think of with all these different noises like you've never heard. So, you pretty much know how to deal with all the distractions. Something we've done this year that we've never done is having someone lay underneath the beam while you do your routine. That was really big because everyone did a perfect series. This was not unusual except for the fact that we were able to do it with someone laying under us, which was pretty interesting and exciting.
Q: Did you have to lay under the beam?
A: I didn't, but talking to the people who were laying under the beam, you weren't scared at all because you knew they were going to make it. Them saying that shows how much trust we have in each other, which is great because that's something we've been working on, confidence and trust. We did that in preseason, right after Thanksgiving. It showed much we trusted each other and how confident we were in our work.
-- David Kiefer, Stanford Athletics