“Fierce” Ch. 11

Aly talks about high school, her experiences with NCAA recruiters, and going pro.

– Aly’s school program allowed her to take her electives online (letting her practice in the mornings 1-2 times a week) and her core classes in person. She would rush into her in-person classes without even showering or putting on a nice outfit, making her feel self-conscious.

– Aly would look in the mirror every morning and talk to herself. She’d think about important character traits and would repeat three physical traits that she liked about herself (she mentions that she loves her smile, her thick dark hair, and her eyebrows)

– Her classmates would innocently ask her if she was going to the Olympics and that stressed her out.

– Her classmates on the hockey team understood her life as an athlete, and the boys in her history class truly liked her for her. They never commented on her body and hung out with her because they liked her personality.

– In 2011, Marta told Aly that she needed an Amanar to make the Olympic team. It stressed her out because it was a blind landing, she needed good form, she was scared of an injury, only a few people were doing one, and she had “many close calls in practice” that freaked her out. She realized that her desire to go to the Olympics was more powerful than her fear of doing the vault, and Mihai and Silvie always believed in her and had patience with her.

– In her junior year, Aly’s school got a new principal and told her that she would need gym class credit to graduate. The PE head compared her request to not take the class to “someone singing in the shower and asking for chorus credit”. Aly had to sign up for PE independent study

– NCAA coaches cannot personally call an athlete before their junior year of high school. However, athletes were able to call the coaches, so coaches would call Aly’s older national teammates and ask them to have her call them back!

– NCAA coaches would occasionally watch Aly’s workouts. One day, two coaches from two different major schools came at the same time (she doesn’t name these schools). She knew one of the coaches so she gave them a hug, and shook the other coach’s hand because she didn’t know them. The other coach reported the hug as a recruiting violation and she thought the whole thing was immature. She never considered going to the reporting coach’s school after that (she mentions that this coach is male)

– Florida stood out to her (yaaaas) because it felt like a second home since both sets of her grandparents lived there, they were one of the top programs, the gymnasts were very welcoming, she liked the campus and weather, and Mihai knew and liked the assistant coaches. She was set on verbally committing when she returned from touring the campus, but Mihai and her parents advised her to wait.

– Before Worlds that year, she called them and said she wanted to see how the Championships went before committing. The coach wanted her to commit anyway and assured her that they would be ok if she changed her mind, so she verbally committed. Worlds went well and Aly decided to go pro, and when she called Florida to tell them they were supportive but one person told her that they were concerned about her Amanar and they felt that “you are running a large risk of tearing your ACL”. Aly was really angry about that and said that during 2012 she couldn’t get their words out of her head. She said that the person later apologized for doubting her potential. She also mentions that she still cheered for Florida after that incident and “you have to move on and not dwell on the past”.

– When she and McKayla did the Ralph Lauren shoot for Olympic hopefuls, the photographer asked them if they brought their uneven bars and balance beams with them. He was shocked when he realized that you couldn’t pack them in a suitcase.