Each Wednesday the Stanford men’s gymnastics team will post a childhood photo of a current gymnast on their Facebook and Twitter pages asking, “Can you name this gymnast?” The identity of the gymnast will be revealed on Thursday along with a special Q-and-A, giving fans a chance to get to know the gymnasts before the 2014 season.
This week’s featured gymnast is freshman Andrew Misiolek. The Lambertville, Mich., native discusses adjusting to collegiate gymnastics training, competing at the Junior Olympics National Championships and his piano and saxophone playing skills.
How has your freshman year been going so far?
As the first quarter wraps up, I can definitively say it has been the most challenging academic term to date and the most demanding athletic period. I knew the transition from JO gymnastics to collegiate gymnastics would be difficult, but I have come to see that as an understatement. Between gymnastics and school, there is not ample free time. However, I have really enjoyed the opportunities to spend time with the incredible people in my dorm, learn my way around campus, and discover Stanford’s many opportunities.
What has been the biggest adjustment to collegiate gymnastics from club?
When I was training in JO, I accepted poor turns and bad days as a part of the sport. One of the lessons this fall quarter was to maintain high standards through the mistakes. Striving to meet these demands to perform to the best of my abilities every turn drains me physically and mentally. I spent much of this quarter in a state of exhaustion I had never known. As the season begins though, I see why the intensity and purpose is necessary in the training. My routines are more prepared than they were at this point in the season any other year, and I have gained more confidence in my gymnastics than ever before.
You competed at the Junior Olympic National Championships earlier this year, what was that experience like?
I enjoyed competing at JOs every chance I had, and my final experience was a great way to end my JO career. This year I reached my highest finish in the all-around, qualifying for a second day of competition for a first time. The meet was always the most exciting of the year, and this year there was added excitement in meeting most of my freshmen teammates for the first time.
With the season quickly approaching, is there anything you’re working on perfecting before competition begins?
In gymnastics, there are always areas that can be perfected. As the season winds up, I have many that warrant attention. One of the weakest aspects of my pommel horse routine is my dismount. I have set that as a focus during my time here, and, with plenty of help, I have made some considerable improvements. Another emphasis in the training is beginning to understand how the team relies on every routine. Even just in practice this is unlike anything I experienced in JOs.
What are some personal goals you’d like to accomplish this season?
The primary goal for the team is to win the NCAA championship at the end of season. The best way I can contribute to this result is to push for a position in the pommel horse lineup. I would like to establish myself as a part of this pommel horse lineup and contribute a score the team can rely upon. More definitively, I would like to consistently score within a point of my start value.
You stated you enjoy playing the piano and saxophone interests on your biography on gostanford.com, when did you start playing instruments? Any favorite musicians or songs you like to play?
In second grade, the same year I joined the gymnastics team, my elementary music teacher inspired me to take up the piano. I began learning the saxophone in the fifth grade. My involvement with the music program in high school allowed me to develop a great group of friends who shared similar interests. Since the school year began, I have not found many opportunities to sit down and play. When I do have a chance though, the first piece I pull out is Beethoven’s Fur Elise.
You also said you like to swim – did you do that competitively? Do you think swimming helps your gymnastics training?
The summer is the closest to an “offseason” for gymnastics, so during that time I would swim competitively for my neighborhood swim team. My gymnastics training allowed me to keep pace with some of the local high school or year-round swimmers, particularly in the butterfly. Swimming probably most helped my gymnastics by encouraging mental strength to work through fatigue and increasing aerobic endurance.