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Emma McLean and Olivia Karas: Michigan Women’s Gymnastics Seniors

Her Campus had the chance to talk to Michigan Women’s Gymnastics seniors, Emma McLean and Olivia (Liv) Karas, who are headed into the 2018-2019 season with high hopes and confidence after their win in their exhibition match on December 2nd.


HC: As your season is getting into the swing of things, how does it feel to be the seniors this year?


EM: It honestly doesn’t feel like were the seniors. Our team doesn’t feel very class divided, it kind of feels like were just one big unit, but as a senior we obviously have more experience than everyone else. Going into a meet in the locker room before we usually talk to the newbies and the freshmen. It feels nice to help them and give them strategies to deal with the pressure and excitement. 


OK: Just like Emma said I can’t believe it. It feels like we were freshmen yesterday especially for us because we started our collegiate careers in Cancun and were going back this year, so it feels like we were there yesterday and were going back again just a year later. It’s kind of crazy that it’s been three years already. Oh, wow that’s really crazy. It’s great because this team is not class divided at all. Everyone has equal say and insight, however, it is really nice to get to shower before everyone else because seniority. Kidding… kind of haha. It’s crazy that it’s our last year but were trying not to get too nostalgic and enjoy it in the moment instead of thinking about the end.


HC: What was it like to compete against other MAC teams and represen the University of Michigan in your first exhibition match this past weekend?


EM: It’s always fun competing with the other Michigan girls because a lot of us know each other, so it’s good to see everyone. Everyone there is there usually for the same reason to kind of work out the kinks. Also, I think overall it laid out the foundation for our team to see where were at and move from there because we can take what happened and build on it, so we can “come out of the gate strong” as Bev (Bev Plocki, the Michigan Women’s Gymnastics coach) likes to say.


OK: It’s definitely fun to have the whole state of Michigan (minus Michigan State) there because it was like a homecoming of friendly faces. It’s great because it’s a mock meet, so it’s nice to get the kinks out, but it was really fun to be around everyone else in our area and have a community of Michigan to compete against.


HC: Olivia, how did it feel for you to be back after your injury last year?


OK: I kind of don’t believe it happened already, I wasn’t thinking about it during the meet but after I was like “that was so cool.” I’m trying my best to forget that anything ever happened, so I can enjoy competing for what it is because I only have a handful of meets left. I’m trying to enjoy the moment and take everything I’ve learned from the past meets and use it now, but it was definitely a huge accomplishment for me mentally and physically.


HC: So, you guys have a lot of new teammates, including really talented freshmen and sophomores, how has it felt to welcome them into the team?


OK: They’ve done a great job, there’s not really a class divide because we do really enjoy each other and getting to know each other. I’m really proud of our freshies and our two new sophomores, Anna and Annie. They have really stepped up when we've needed them to and done their job. It’s a completely different experience competing in college and a lot of the girls after the meet were like “that was actually really fun” and we were like “I know that’s what we’re trying to tell you!” So, it’s just been really fun to see a lot a talent and watch cool gymnastics.


EM: Yeah, I would agree with all of that.


HC: Tell me a bit more about your trip to Cancun.


EM: I think we’re all excited to get some sun and it will definitely lift our spirits and get us feeling good. We have five practices after Christmas, so were trying to use all the time we have now to get everything ready then it will be working everything out quickly when we get back. We should be ready, it is already put together, so we will just be polishing it up after break.


OK: Yeah exactly and Bev always stresses to us that yes, its Cancun and it’s going to be really fun, but it’s a business trip. We really need to make sure we get everything done and go in confident instead of going in after Christmas feeling like we aren’t ready. We all have the mindset to keep working towards it and we will stay focused on the goal over Christmas.


HC: What is one thing that you are looking forward to the most and want to accomplish this year?


EM: I think overall our goal is always to win Big Tens. We have only been in nationals our sophomore year, we didn’t make it our freshman or junior year because of silly things that shouldn’t have happened. This year our team is special, and we say it every year, but really this year is very special because we mesh together so well. These are things that take you far as a team because we can lean on each other and have each other’s back and the trust we have now. The goal is to make it to national and to show everyone what Michigan Gymnastics is made of because clearly, we are stronger now than we’ve ever been which will take us very far. 


OK: I definitely think that this level of trust and cohesion we all have is very unique. Like Emma said its always a goal to win Big Tens and to do the best we possibly can, but this year I think our goal is to make it all the way because there is no reason why we can’t. There is no talent barrier, there’s nothing stopping us, it’s strictly how we choose to proceed and lean on and support each other. Emma said it perfectly, a team that meshes well together and is cohesive makes it far. I think that’s our goal, but also to take every day one day at a time because new things will hit you every day and we just need to “ride the wave” as she (Emma) tells me.


The Michigan Wolverines will compete against Iowa state, Rutgers, and West Virginia in the 16thannual Cancun Classic on January 4th at 7:00 pm. You can watch it live on www.flogymnastics.com or can see the final scores on the team page on www.mgoblue.com. 

A sophomore at the University of Michigan studying Communications and Digital Studies.
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