From NCAA champion gymnast to Olympic Trials marathoner, Gabi Rooker does it all — Thoughts from TWU’s Daisy Woodring
The IX: Gymnastics Saturday with Lela Moore, Feb. 3, 2024
Happy Gymnastics Saturday! Gymnasts constantly battle a stereotype of being clumsy off the equipment. There is also a stereotype of being unable to transition into more aerobic sports easily because gymnastics is anaerobic and depends on a certain type of muscle memory.
I interviewed Rooker for Five at The IX in July 2022, just after she announced that she wanted to qualify for the trials after a breakthrough performance at the Grandma’s Marathon in Minnesota. At the 2023 Chicago Marathon, she qualified with a time of 2:34:57, making her the fourth-best American at that race and one of just 155 American women in the trials pool.
The top three female finishers in Orlando will comprise the Olympic team that will compete in Paris this summer.
Rooker won three national and three individual gymnastics titles at LaCrosse. She’s already a standout runner; can she become an Olympian? I know where I’ll be at 10 a.m. today.
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Other gym news
Justin Reynolds was named Clemson’s assistant coach.
(Content warning: sexual violence.) Illinois State sophomore gymnast Nirel Bart-Williams was charged with second-degree sexual assault and has pleaded not guilty.
Emma Malabuyo has a busy schedule for the next several weeks. The UCLA junior will compete at the Cairo World Cup from Feb. 15 to 18; compete at the Cottbus World Cup from Feb. 22 to 25; fly back to Los Angeles for a meet against Stanford on March 1; and then head to Baku, Azerbaijan, for the World Cup from March 7 to 10. Jet lag? She’s never heard of it.
Nicki Smith scored Michigan State’s first-ever 10 on floor last week.
Florida’s Ellie Lazzari appeared on Gator alum Bridget Sloan’s podcast, “Flipping Out,” this week to announce that she will take a fifth year.
Kara Eaker and Kim Tessen testified before the Utah state legislature about abusive coaching.
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Five at The IX: Daisy Woodring of Texas Woman’s University
Daisy Woodring is a graduate student at Texas Woman’s University (TWU), pursuing a master’s degree in chemistry. She competes three events: beam, vault, and floor. In addition to her gymnastics accolades — she was the USAG vault national champion and a USAG First Team All-American on beam in 2023 — she is also an academic star, earning 2023 CSC Academic All-American First Team honors.
Woodring responded within hours to my interview request, and I’m delighted to feature her here today. The interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
What made you choose TWU when you were looking for a school to continue your gymnastics career?
Daisy Woodring (DW): I chose TWU because I wanted to be a part of a program that held high standards in and out of the gym. I could immediately feel the community and authenticity of the coaches and team. Their words were backed by actions. The coaches truly value each person, not just as an athlete and student, but also as a person. They do their job in a way that makes it easy to do my job. The same level of care and commitment is held by the school through the faculty and staff.
What is your favorite place on your campus, and why?
DW: My favorite place on campus is Kitty Magee Arena. Not only is it where we hold our gymnastics meets, but we also get to watch other sports play and perform. It holds many great memories, whether being in front of our fans or being in the stands.
If you could design a TWU competition leotard that would be named after you, what would it look like?
DW: I would not consider myself a great artist, but if I could design a leotard, it would be all black with an open back and high neckline. I would want it to have a good amount of jewels but not an overwhelming amount, so that it is classy and not too flashy.
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What is your favorite event to compete, and why?
DW: My favorite event to compete is beam. In the past, competing beam has made me very anxious. But by competing, I have worked through so many fears and emotions. I’ve learned (and am still learning) how to enjoy the pressure. My faith in Jesus has allowed me to walk in confidence and trust in Him and His future for me.
If you were challenged to do a skill 10 times in a row, what skill would allow you to win?
DW: I would probably do a front toss on beam. I really enjoy that skill, so I wouldn’t mind doing 10 of them anyways. I often get in trouble at practice for doing more than I need to!
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