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 senior Sean Senters. The Center Valley, Pa. native discusses what it was like earning All-America honors in his home state at last year's NCAA Championships, being a leader on a team with 13 underclassmen and sports he enjoys outside of gymnastics.
How has the year been going so far?
So far, the year has been going really well! There is obviously an adjustment period that every team has to go through at the beginning of the year, but we are starting to hit our stride, and that’s really coming through in the training. I’m really impressed with how the freshmen have been adjusting to the training and the team’s focus and purpose has been something that’s motivated me every day going into that workout setting.
With the season is quickly approaching, what are you working on in practice?
We realize how quickly season is going to come, and especially with how last year finished (edging out Penn State by 0.05 for third place), the focus has really been on getting our comfort level up so we can execute to the best of our abilities. Additionally, landings have become of supreme importance in NCAA gymnastics, with stick bonuses being able to contribute up to 4.5 points if everyone sticks at a competition in addition to not taking landing deductions – so landings have been really important as we start to approach competition time.
What are some of the team goals you’d like to accomplish this season?
Team goals for the year would be obviously to bring an NCAA championship back to The Farm. This team is very young with 13 underclassmen, so it’s crucial that we are able to gain experience and learn from every time we salute a routine, whether it’s in practice or competition. This team has so much potential and depth, which has been elusive in past years, so it’s about getting the experience so we can really lay it all out on the floor in Michigan (site of this year’s NCAA Championships) in April.
Last year you earned All-America honors on floor and vault, what was that experience like?
The experience was an exciting one! I’m actually from Pennsylvania and have competed at Penn State numerous times as a club gymnast, so it was really cool to come back and perform well on my two best events as a collegiate gymnast. In addition, I was able to perform in front of family members and old club teammates, which just made for a really special environment, and one I feel privileged to share with the guys that were on the team last year.
Any personal goals going into this season?
My goals for this season are obviously to stay healthy, as well really enjoying the season as a whole. So much of the time we put an emphasis on the end goal, but it’s really the long hours of training that build the character of this team – so just really soaking that in and staying positive throughout the journey, which is sometimes a personal struggle. Gymnastically, I would love to contribute my best possible routines on floor, pommel horse, vault, and high bar for the team during NCAA’s. I would also love to compete a yurchenko triple full on vault!
Being one of the team’s veterans, what advice do you give to the younger gymnasts?
I’d say one of the main things I tell the younger guys (especially the freshmen, seeing as it’s their first time through) is to keep pushing through the training, even on days when it’s an absolute struggle. Our coaching staff really has a plan all the way through April, which is contingent on us putting in the numbers and the work every single day in the gym, and the sooner we place our trust in that as a team, the more optimal our results will be.
What are you looking forward to most this season?
This season, I’m really looking forward to trying to take a more active role in leading the team. Just looking into the gym each day, it’s awesome to see the potential this team has. It’s also crazy to think that I’m in the position of the Class of 2011 when I was a freshman, and they really did some great things for the program. I just want to contribute to the legacy of Stanford gymnastics and what this program’s standing is on campus and in the NCAA landscape.
Outside of the gym, what do you like doing with your free time?
Outside of the gym, one of my favorite things to do is watch the other different sports on campus. It’s so inspiring to see the entire athletic community here working toward excellence, so to get out and cheer them on is really exciting! My favorite sport besides gymnastics is probably tennis, I’m a huge tennis fan, and so it was really exciting to see the women’s team win NCAA’s last year. Also women’s volleyball matches are incredibly exciting, and I obviously can’t leave out the standout job that our football team did in beating Oregon this past week!
See any good movies or television shows recently? Any interesting books you’ve read lately?
I’m a political science major here at Stanford, so a lot of my interests have been in that realm. This past weekend, I read Double Down, by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, two MSNBC reporters who went behind the scenes of the 2012 election, which was really enlightening, as I would like to go into campaign work following my time at Stanford and potentially graduate school. Also on that route, I’ve been watching House of Cards, an amazing Netflix series; I’m super excited for Season 2! Besides that, I’ve been watching How I Met Your Mother and Modern Family, and my favorite movie is The Blind Side.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I feel incredibly blessed to be at Stanford and am sincerely looking forward to showing what Stanford gymnastics is all about!