STANFORD, Calif. – No. 10 Stanford’s women’s gymnastics meet against No. 19 California on Monday at 7 p.m. (PT) in Maples Pavilion will be the final home competition for Cardinal seniors Amanda Spinner and Shona Morgan.
The duo have played an instrumental role in Stanford’s success over the past four years, with Morgan being a regular in the Cardinal’s lineups on bars, beam and floor, and Spinner establishing herself as one of the nation’s best competitors on beam.
Both gymnasts helped lead Stanford to one of its best finishes at an NCAA Championships in program history in 2012 and each earned All-America honors – Morgan on bars and Spinner on beam.
Before their final home performance, the pair took some time to answer questions about their time with the team over the past four years and the impact the team has had on their college experience.
This Monday is your final meet at Stanford, what impact has your time on the team had on your college experience?
Shona: I can't imagine my college experience without my team. They have been such a great source of friendship and support that I feel so lucky to have had the chance to get to know such amazing and interesting people. My experience on the team has also helped me grow as a person in terms of leadership and how to respond to situations in ways that are productive. The coaches work to not only give us skills in the sport, but also life skills that will be useful when we leave.
Amanda: This team has been such a huge part of my life here at Stanford. Never have I worked so hard at something in my entire life, but felt so much support and had so much fun in the process. Looking back to my freshman year, I can say that I have grown so much. I have this team and this school to thank for that. This team and coaching staff has been a second family for me the past four years, making my college experience truly special.
Both of you helped Stanford deliver one of its most impressive performances ever at an NCAA Championships in 2012, what was that experience like?
Shona: It was such a great feeling seeing all our hard work come together and being able to show everyone how amazing this team is. We fully trusted each other and performed like we practice every day in the gym. We let our great work shine through.
Amanda: NCAA Championships in 2012 was one of the most incredible experiences. That week was surreal. Everything came together, and after all of our hard work that year, it was so rewarding. To know that at the end of the year, not only did we do everything we could throughout the year, but we did everything we could that week when it counted most is all you can ever ask for as an athlete. Half of our team, including my class and myself, had never been to NCAAs before, so we were in awe of everything that was going on. Everything we did seemed so exciting, even waking up at 5 a.m. to leave for NCAAs and waking up early again for Super Six. I can honestly say that week was one of the best weeks of my life.
Is there a particular moment or story that stands out to you from your time on the competition floor?
Shona: I remember a moment when Alex Archer just competed a beautiful bar routine and brought everyone together and asked us to place our hands on our hearts. She asked if we could feel our heartbeat and said that that is what we compete with - our hearts.
Amanda: I will never forget the first time I raised my hand for Stanford University. They were only exhibition routines, but I will always remember hearing my teammates voices when I landed my dismount on both bars and beam. I could hear them throughout my routines and I could definitely hear them when I landed. I think they were just as happy as I was, which is truly indicative of what this team stands for. We share in our success and failures as one team, so the great times feel that much better and during the down times you never feel alone.
Any special memories outside of the gym with your team?
Shona: There are so many times outside the gym that I've enjoyed being with my teammates. We enjoy taking day-trips into the city, where we visit the farmer's market or just explore the city. We often go out to see films together, go shopping, or bowling. Even just hanging out, doing mundane things such as running errands are so much more enjoyable when I'm with my teammates.
Amanda: Looking back on the past four years, it’s simply impossible for me to choose one. From hiking in Stinson Beach to looking out on all of San Francisco from Coit Tower, to learning the dance to the song “Wop” after qualifying to NCAAs, to scaring my teammate so badly one night she fell flat on her back, to having a Thanksgiving feast over break, to climbing on the roof to watch the sunset, to study sessions at various coffee shops, to playing miniature golf, to trips to the farmer’s market, and sunrises on Windy Hill. There have been so many special memories outside the gym that I will cherish forever.
What role have your teammates played in your college experience?
Shona: My teammates have been super supportive for everything. I have a good friendship with them outside the gym and know that I can count of them if I need help. I definitely would not have had as much fun as I have had without them.
Amanda: My teammates have been my closest friends throughout my college experience. They are in most of my memories that I have here at Stanford and have been the people I turn to when I’m struggling. Through the good times and the bad, they have been the people at my side.
What do you want to accomplish before you graduate?
Shona: I know this team is capable of attaining a Pac-12 championship and NCAA title. It would be a great achievement and testament to all the hard work we put in every single day.
Amanda: Our team has some big goals for the end of the year. Before Shona and I graduate, we want to help our team to a Pac-12 Championship victory and challenge for the national title at Super Six.
What will you miss most about Stanford and the gymnastics team?
Shona: I will miss being able to come into the gym and getting to hang out with a group of people so diverse and interesting and different but with one common goal that we all come together for.
Amanda: What I will miss most about Stanford are the people here. Both in the gym and outside, I am so thankful to be surrounded by such inspiring people who never take themselves too seriously. I am going to miss coming into the gym every day to spend time with my teammates and my coaches and I will miss spending time with the people in my house on campus who always brighten my day.
Anything else you’d like to add about your time at Stanford or with the gymnastics team?
Shona: I had no idea what to expect when I came to Stanford but what I have experienced is so much better than I could have imagined. Words cannot do it justice. This place has helped me discover and grow into the person I am now. I am not just an athlete or a student; I am so much more than any one specific category can accurately define and I am continually learning more about myself and the people around me. I have my coaches, teammates, friends and professors to thank for that and I cannot describe just how lucky I feel to have had this opportunity to come to such a great place full of people who continuously push you to breaking whatever limits you place on yourself.
Amanda: Looking back at the past four years here, I can safely say that choosing to come to Stanford University was the best decision I have ever made. Saying thank you to all the people that have influenced my life while at Stanford could never encompass how grateful I am. While I graduate this Spring I know that I will be a part of an extended family for the rest of my life. The friendships I have made I will cherish forever and the people I have met will always have a special place in my heart.