Gymnasts showing boundless energy, excitement in first season under Lowe
Members of Liberty University’s gymnastics team have progressed by leaps and bounds since hitting the mats in the Liberty Club Sports Complex for their first practices under first-year Head Coach Jessie Lowe in early September.
“We use a lot of this fall semester to build a big strength foundation for them so that by the time we get to competition season, their bodies are feeling really strong,” Lowe said. “They’re able to handle the impacts of full-set routines on hard mats. That way, by the end of the season, they are feeling good and at (NAIGC) nationals (in April), they are peaking at their best. They’ve been really patient with the process.”
“Right now, we’re just preparing our skills, trying to get confident in the skills we have now, and then we’ll start building our routines soon,” senior AJ Kenniv said.
Kenniv said Lowe, who formerly competed for the Lady Flames from 2013-17 and served as assistant coach from 2017-20, has built a solid team foundation that prioritizes faith over performance.
“It’s been awesome to have Jessie back, a really huge blessing,” she said. “She’s been an awesome role model, not only as a coach, but just as a person, encouraging us in our faith and our walk with the Lord, and incorporating that into who we are as athletes, and to remind us to put our relationship with the Lord first, before being athletes.”
Junior Sophie Boone said Lowe has strengthened the confidence in each of the team members and brought out their best on the mats and various apparatus.
“Getting to know Jessie has been so nice,” she said. “I love her so much. She has not only already helped me so much but has given me comfort and just trusting her and knowing that she is really, truly helping us and helping our program … she has been such a light for us.”
Kenniv said she and the returning gymnasts have formed quick friendships with the incoming freshmen.
“We have a lot of new girls this year … and it’s the biggest team we’ve had in a while,” she said. “It’s a really cool opportunity that we have to build a new community with new girls coming in. We’ve been able to do a lot of bonding outside of practice as well as in practice … which has really helped to build our team culture and our team chemistry.”
“It’s just been a lot of fun getting to know one another,” Boone said. “We actually share our testimonies on Tuesday mornings, so that’s been really cool to dive into each other’s personal lives, just to know each other more.”
Lowe said taking the reins of the program has been a dream opportunity for her and the response of her team members has made the transition an easy one.
“It’s been a total joy,” she said. “I love this program. I love what it stands for. It’s been so much fun to take it and run with it and see the girls really buy into what I see for the program.”
“The girls are awesome,” Lowe added. “They’ve been really great at coming in and wanting to be here and wanting to get their reps in and just getting their work done. That’s all you can ask for as a coach and I’m really appreciative of their energy. The returning seniors have been tremendous leaders so that incoming class of freshmen, they have really helped them mesh into not only college life, but the program.”
Video edited by Micah Adams/Club Sports Video & Media Assistant