This week’s featured gymnast is sophomore Dennis Zaremski. The New York, N.Y., native discusses competing at the NCAA Championships last year as a freshman, earning All-America honors and what he looks forward to most this coming season.
How has preseason training been going this year?
The preseason has been going well this year. As a sophomore, I feel much more prepared for it than I did last year as a freshman. Although preseason is always a grind, I’m very excited that competition season is right around the corner.
How was arriving on campus as a sophomore this year different than last year as a freshman?
I feel much more secure with my gymnastics than I did last year. I have much better sense of how our training cycles work and I trust that I will be fully prepared for season. In addition, I feel like I’ve established my niche on the team. It’s also fun to be able to help freshmen through the process.
Last season you competed at the NCAA Championships as a freshman, what was that experience like?
NCAAs last year was by far the most exhilarating meet I’ve ever competed in. I felt we peaked in terms of team camaraderie and confidence at that point of the season and it was an amazing experience. I’m looking forward to how the freshmen react to it this year because it’s so much different from high school competition.
You earned All-America honors on parallel bars at the national championships, can you describe what that moment was like?
For me, earning All-America honors was just icing on the cake. What really defined my experience was the team effort that I described earlier. Since the team competition finishes before individual competition, competing during finals on parallel bars felt almost serene. I definitely felt much less pressure than I did during team finals.
With only eight weeks left until the opening meet at Cal is there anything you’re working on perfecting before then?
I’ve added lots of skills on parallel bars and rings, so I’m working on getting used to the construction of my new routines. My main objective is to perfect my Bhavsar on parallel bars, which I’m able to do really well only some of the time. Overall, I’m confident that everything will fall into place by the time our opening meet comes around.
What are some of the team goals you’d like to accomplish this season?
As always, the main goal is to win the team NCAA championship. I’d also love to see 30 of 30 hit routines more than once this season.
Any personal goals going into this season?
Some might say I have my head in the clouds, but I’m pursuing the parallel bars and rings NCAA gold. My start values are up there, so it all comes down to execution. It’s also exciting to think that the closer I get to that goal, the more I’ll help the team in pursuit of the NCAA team championship.
You do a unique dismount on the still rings that no one else in the country does – what is it called and what does it consist of? Do you plan on continuing to use it this year or do you have something else planned?
The original skill I competed last year on rings was a Nakayama to V-cross. It has yet to be competed at a world competition, so it still does not have a name in the code of points (which means for now, I’ll continue to claim it as my own!) However, this season, I’m planning on competing a similar skill, but from an Azarian instead of a Nakayama. That skill was competed for the first time at last year’s World Championships. It’s called a Tay and was awarded an “E” value.
What are you looking forward to most this season?
The thing I’m looking forward to most this season is rekindling the competitive drive that pushes the entire team forward. This competitive attitude brings everyone on the team together because we’re all working toward a common goal. For me, the last few meets of last season were the most enjoyable ones because we all saw the goal sitting right in front of us and we bonded to try and reach it.
Outside of the gym, what do you like doing with your free time?
I’ve started writing short pieces for The Elite Daily and it’s been a lot of fun. I find it enjoyable to write out thoughts that I normally wouldn’t bother reflecting upon for extended periods of time. As someone who’s never kept any sort of journal, I think it’s helped me consolidate my thoughts in a creative, introspective way. It’s also fun to incorporate insight that I gain from the classes I’m currently taking.
See any good movies lately?
I recently watched A Beautiful Mind for the first time. I thought it offered a really interesting perspective on the pain that a mental illness like schizophrenia can cause, but it also offered some hope that a mentally ill person can lead a productive, happy life with proper treatment. I was also surprised that I learned John Nash’s economic theories in my studies last year but had no idea that he was schizophrenic and the subject of this movie.