Every Thursday, GoStanford.com will present an interview with a Stanford women’s gymnastics alumna. This week, sophomore Maggie Teets features Sheri DeGraw (‘89).
Maggie: Can you describe what you have been doing since graduating from Stanford?
Sheri: One year after graduation I married Stanford baseball player Eric DeGraw (who also graduated with me) and then went to graduate school in education and obtained my teacher's credential. I began my elementary teaching career in Southern California.
I created and implemented a co-teaching structure in the district, so when I began to start my family I could do so in a way where I could teach part time and be home with my children part time, while maintaining my status and tenure within the district (good news is that it is still being used by the district today. It is very successfully allowing teachers to be in the classroom and at home raising their children).
Eric and I have three children, Matt - who is currently a sophomore at Stanford, Tim - a junior in high school, and Sara - a seventh grade middle school student.
In 1998 Eric's job brought us to Rye, New York where we live today. I continued with my passion for teaching by designing, writing curriculum, and building an outdoor science classroom at my kids' elementary school – complete with a working garden. I taught all grade levels at the school and for 2 years; I was even able to sneak in teaching a gymnastics class once a week.
Maggie: What lessons have you carried with you from your experience on the Stanford gymnastics team?
Sheri: I have always felt that my Stanford gymnastics experience provided me with many valuable lessons. Most importantly, if you work hard and stay focused, you can reach your potential and be successful.
I value the many close friendships that I made with my teammates and I always strive to be a supportive and positive friend to all those in my life. I also remember many fun times with my team and know that laughter adds so much to what you are doing; it makes life a blast. And though I have always loved competition (and do not like to lose), I feel by learning to overcome my mistakes and moving forward I am much better able to handle the crazy things life can throw at you.
Maggie: What are your favorite Stanford memories?
Sheri: I have so many wonderful memories from my time at Stanford. It is certainly hard to choose my favorite. One of my favorite stories to tell is how I met my husband, Eric, in the training room. But I really didn't get to know him until a year later when a few teammates and I had made a bet at the beginning of school to get to know someone we didn't know before.
I cherish the many friends I made and the fun times we had together: going to football games with my freshman dorm, attending many different sporting events to cheer on friends and watching them compete at the highest level, my crazy bike encounters on campus, experiencing classes I would have never thought to take, and learning all the ins and outs of the Stanford campus and traditions.
Maggie: What was your favorite competition?
Sheri: Basically I loved competing and looked forward to our meets. I loved our home meets where my friends and dorm mates could come and watch, but I also loved traveling with the team and seeing other colleges across the country.
One meet in particular that I really enjoyed was my last home meet at Stanford for Senior Day. Not only were many of my family members and friends there, but I also had the best meet of my career and the team did extremely well. I could feel the energy and strength the entire meet from my teammates and I remember all of the seniors just wanting to revel in the moment.
The other seniors and I had been a very tight group from the start of freshman year. We wanted to go out with a bang. There were posters, flowers, family members and friends. I remember feeling so grateful for being a part of that.
Maggie: Who was your favorite professor?
Sheri: That is actually a hard question for me. Though I kind of remember certain professors I had, I actually remember more about the material being taught or the people I met in certain classes. One of my favorite classes was a psychology research class that was conducted at Bing Nursery School. It is what led me into teaching. I realized what a difference I could make in the life of a child through teaching.
Maggie: How is it now watching SWG compete versus being in the arena?
Sheri: Unfortunately, living in New York has not allowed me to attend many meets. I follow on Twitter and online for results but have seen very few competitions in person.
The last time I attended a meet I was in complete awe of the girls and what they were performing. They looked calm, confident, and incredibly poised. It was such a treat to watch and root them on to a nice victory. I was at the meet with a few teammates of mine: we all looked at each other and stated how tough gymnastics has gotten. There is no way we would have been able to make the team now [laughs].
Maggie: Do you have any advice for the girls on the SWG team now?
Sheri: Enjoy your time at Stanford, live in the moment, and have no regrets. Take advantage of every opportunity, and know you can do anything when you put your mind to it. Make sure to always stay in touch with your teammates; they are your friends for life and always be there for you.