Routines up for grabs in the transfer portal — Other gym news — Thoughts from Noa Samson, gymnerd embroidery artist
The IX: Gymnastics Saturday with Lela Moore, May 6, 2023
Happy Gymnastics Saturday! Last week, we talked about the transfer portal, what it is, and what it means for gymnastics.
This week, since most of the athletes in the transfer portal have not yet landed with new programs (although a couple from my list last week did: Sidney Washington will compete at Ohio State next year, and Hailey Merchant will compete for Maryland), I thought I’d look at a few routines that are up for grabs in the portal and who might benefit from them. This is all speculation on my part, as I have no more information than the average gymnastics-obsessed bear.
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Jillian Hoffman’s Yurchenko 1.5
UCLA needs some 10.0 start values on vault. Florida needs some stuck landings. Either would be lucky to get Hoffman. I see her staying with a top-10 program, coming out of Utah, but maybe she’ll surprise us. It would be cool to see her competing more, and in more events, somewhere.
Lucy Stanhope’s Yurchenko 1.5
YOU get a former Utah vaulter, and YOU get a former Utah vaulter! Someone’s going to be very happy with this big vault, and I hope they also give British expat Stanhope a chance to shine on other events. Stanhope seems like she’s up for an adventure and could be a bigger fish in a smaller pond, perhaps for a rising star program such as Kentucky or Michigan State.
Sage Thompson’s bars
Another Utah gymnast in the portal, this time with a standout bars routine who is capable of much more on other events than we have seen from her with the Utes. Thompson was originally committed to Cal, and it’s a program where her skills are needed. Still, if she wants to compete more, I wonder if heading to a bubble team where she could get more experience on more events might work. Arkansas makes good use of its roster. Auburn could use her. Oregon State would love her.
Savannah Schoenherr’s piked Jaeger and toepoint
Who needs a bars standout and is located in a state with LGBTQIA+-friendly politics?
Cal, long known for its bars prowess, faltered in the national semifinals on the event. UCLA is losing Jordan Chiles to an Olympic run for a year, which also happens to be the exact amount of time former Florida star Savannah Schoenherr is up for grabs. OSU, having lost Madi Dagen and with Jade Carey’s status up in the air, could be another taker. As with Hoffman, I do see Schoenherr having her pick of top programs, but I’m betting she’ll also be choosy due to, you know, her identity being valued. See Five at The IX below for another cool take on Schoenherr’s bars!
Sirena Linton’s beam
Who needs a beam routine and is located in a state with LGBTQIA+-friendly politics? Certainly West Coast schools should be eyeing her, but Minnesota or Michigan could also use a beam queen and are politically safe spaces for an out and proud gymnast to live.
Mara Titarsolej’s bars
Titarsolej, a former Dutch national team member, is transferring out of LIU. Whoever gets her will get an immediate bars glow-up. In 2022, Titarsolej scored the LIU program’s first-ever 10 on bars. She’s got potential on beam and floor, too, though injuries have limited her on the leg events. Titarsolej’s former teammate Ilka Juk just transferred to Iowa, and I could see Titarsolej end up in the same state but for Iowa State, which has long attracted former international elites and will have a new coach this season in Ashley Miles Greig. I could see Cal interested in her as well.
Alondra Maldonado’s floor
Maldonado is a standout on floor and beam, and I could see her moving to a school such as Auburn or Arkansas that lost key competitors on those events and would welcome Maldonado’s expressive routines.
Other gym news
Riley McCusker spoke to the Olympic Channel about feeling “very free” and rediscovering her love for gymnastics during her sophomore season at Florida.
An interview from UCLA’s student paper, the Daily Bruin, with Janelle McDonald about taking a season to rebuild her team before looking into upgrades for next season.
The Balance Beam Situation provides a very helpful guide to who has qualified for worlds this year and how.
The Gymternet dives into the World Cup rankings to show who will make it to worlds.
Selena Harris showed off some bars upgrades.
Raena Worley and Arianna Patterson will be back at Kentucky next year!
Morgan Hurd had elbow surgery.
Minnesota Sports and Events put in a bid to host a future Olympic Trials in the Twin Cities, and Suni Lee was there with Minnesota Governor Tim Walz.
The U.S. women’s team for the Pan American Championships, to be held May 26-28 in Medellin, Colombia, was named. Addison Fatta, Nola Matthews, Zoe Miller, Joscelyn Roberson and Tiana Sumanasakera will represent, with Madray Johnson as the traveling alternate.
And speaking of Roberson, she won gold medals on both vault and floor and a silver on beam at the Cairo World Cup. Casual.
National team member Charlotte Booth is training in the United Kingdom.
Kaylia Nemour’s epic bar routine. Now if she could get to compete it at worlds … come on, France, let her compete for Algeria.
Asia D’Amato tore her ACL and meniscus at the Cairo World Cup and needs surgery. Again.
And Martina Maggio needs foot surgery.
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Five at The IX: Noa Samson, aka @embroiderugh
While poking around on Reddit this week, as a gymnerd does, I found a link to this amazing reel by Noa Samson, who goes by @embroiderugh on Instagram. It’s an animation of former Florida Gator Savannah Schoenherr’s bars routine that links 37 (THIRTY-SEVEN) hand-embroidered frames.
Noa (they/them), 33, lives in Queens, N.Y., and is an embroidery artist. They also organize a New York City-based meetup called Queer Craft Club. I had decided to feature their post today, but then when I DM’d them to ask permission, I thought, what are the odds that they might have time for an interview? Because it isn’t every day you run across a fellow gymnerd who is proficient in both fiber arts AND animation AND combines it all so beautifully. I must know more! Super excited for this one. Let’s dive in. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
I don’t know whether to ask you about gymnastics or embroidery first! Let’s go with gymnastics, as this is a gymnastics newsletter. Did you/do you do gymnastics, and how did you get into the sport as a fan? Tell us a little about your relationship with the sport.
NS: I could never even do a cartwheel, so I definitely was not a gymnast, but my cousins did gymnastics as kids and they got me into watching the Olympics. I started watching NCAA gymnastics after the 2016 Olympics. First, it was just browsing YouTube clips, but it quickly turned into religiously watching meets during the season. I fell in love with the Florida Gators right away — I loved the energy and talent of the team, especially Alex McMurtry, Rachel Slocum and Alicia Boren, and I appreciated Jenny Rowland’s coaching style as well.
And now embroidery! How long have you been embroidering? How did you get into it, and why do you like it?
NS: I’ve been doing embroidery for five years now! I was never an artist and picked it up on a whim — my longtime roommate dabbles in lots of fiber arts, and when they were trying out embroidery, I asked to borrow some supplies to give it a shot myself. I found that I had a bit of a knack for it and was hooked immediately. I like how easy it is to get started with the craft, that it can be a meditative process, and how with enough patience you can create something really beautiful.
How did you come up with the idea for the Savannah Schoenherr animation, and how long did it take you both to create it and to animate it?
NS: I’ve been making embroidery animations on and off for a couple of years, and one of my earlier projects was a segment of Grace Glenn’s historic leadoff 10 on beam for UCLA.
I knew I wanted to do another gymnastics one, and I’m such a fan of Savannah’s uneven bars. I was hoping we might see a 10 this season that I could stitch, but when she announced her injury in January, I decided to go for it with an older routine. From start to finish, the entire project took me almost 80 hours to complete, and 60 hours of that was doing the embroidery itself. It’s the first animation that I’ve done with each frame stitched on a separate piece of fabric, and it’s made of 37 individual hand-embroidered frames.
You mentioned in your post that it’s great to see so many out gymnasts competing in NCAA, and I agree. What in particular drew you to Schoenherr?
NS: Since I follow the Gators more than any other team, I get to see more of those athletes’ personalities and follow their journeys through their college years. Sav’s spirit and skill endeared her to me, and when she came out in 2020, it was the first I’d heard of an out gay gymnast in the NCAA. Even as a non-gymnast in my 30s, representation is so important to me as a queer and trans gym fan. So of course I felt extremely proud and became even more of a diehard supporter.
Let’s say you had unlimited time and energy to devote to another project like this one! Which gymnast, and which routine, would you choose to animate next?
NS: I would love to animate another beam routine. The body shapes in the leaps and acrobatics really lend themselves to art. It would probably have to be either Peng Peng Lee’s 2018 championship-winning 10 for UCLA or one of Helen Hu’s routines. I think Helen deserved to get a 10 in her time at Missouri; she was just superb. Maybe I’ll do it! But I’ve been working on the animation of Savannah since January, so I might need a little break first.
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