This week’s featured gymnast is junior Michael Levy. The Albuquerque, N.M., native discusses Thanksgiving plans and traditions, competing at the NCAA Championships each of his first two years and his current favorite shows and books.
How has the year been going so far?
It has been going very well. The team has been working together well and it looks like we are starting to see who is going to be in the lineup this season. We have a great group of guys inside and outside of the gym. It has been a fun preseason, and I’m sure it will continue all the way through season. My junior year is going well as far as school is concerned.
Any plans for Thanksgiving this year? Any unique family traditions?
We always have Thanksgiving at our house with lots of extended family and lots of dogs running around. We like to keep it quiet. We always have way too much food than we could ever eat. Unfortunately, I missed out on a pre-Thanksgiving tradition this year, a traditional Matanza or pig roasting that my uncle does at his farm in Belen. I’m sure I will get to eat some leftovers though.
You’ve competed at the NCAA Championships Finals two years in a row, what has that experience been like?
It has been a great learning experience. The first year I was just happy to be out there on the floor. It wasn’t until last year that I really realized just what an amazing experience it is to compete in the NCAA Finals. Last year was “five up, five count,” so you really had to go out there and own your sets. It was exhilarating and really made me feel close to the team.
With the season quickly approaching, is there anything you’re working on perfecting before competition begins?
Perfecting the little things is the nature of our sport. We have been working on routines for a bit now and from here on through NCAAs all we will do is fine tune them. Stanford Gymnastics has a legacy of being a clean and technical team, so we all look to keep that image up. It is never good enough until it is perfect.
What are some of the team goals you’d like to accomplish this season?
Every year our primary goal is to bring home a national championship. We always hope that we will do other things and learn new skills, but that is our first concern.
Any personal goals going into the season?
I am really looking to be an All-American on the three events that I compete in – floor, rings, and vault. Last year I came close to making finals on rings. I really want to see our team do well, it always makes me feel the best when we leave a competition doing the best we could.
You wrestled in high school, do you feel like any of that training/competition has helped with your gymnastics training? Anything from your time wrestling stick with you now that you’re in college?
Wrestling in high school got me in good shape while I was still trying to do both. Now the only time I still use anything from wrestling is when one of my teammates mistakenly thinks he can wrestle me to the ground.
See any good movies, read a good book, or enjoy television shows lately?
Yeah, I just started reading Game of Thrones, and I am really enjoying it. We just went as a team to see Catching Fire, the sequel to the Hunger Games, and that was a really good movie. I just finished watching Breaking Bad, which was filmed in Albuquerque where I am from. I would recommend all of these.