December 16, 2009

COACHES BLOG: WOMEN'S BASKETBALL, GYMNASTICS AND SKIING

The UNH Coaches Blog will be a weekly feature in which selected coaches share thoughts and insights about their program. This week’s blog highlights the women’s basketball, skiing and gymnastics teams.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL
Finals are here and Christmas break is right around the corner, which means as the head coach my challenge is to keep our team focused and to finish on a good note. We face Holy Cross this Sunday, December 20th (1pm) in a double header with our men’s program. And then Tuesday, December 22nd we will face national championship runner-up Louisville at 7pm.

So far this season we have many positive things to build upon. We started out with 3 good wins over St. Joseph’s, Massachusetts and Harvard. We have gotten great production from our seniors, Amy Simpson and Candace Williams. It has been very nice to have Denise Beliveau back after a year off due to a knee injury; it is like she never missed a day. And a pleasant surprise has been the play of Jill McDonald. Jill worked extremely hard in the offseason and came back hungry to be our go-to post player. She has been a tremendous presence for us in the post and it has taken a lot of pressure off of our guards.

I am excited about this team and the work they are doing. Our future remains bright and we are committed to surrendering to one another in order to be the best team we can be! We are ready to make our mark on the America East Conference.

A special thank you to all of you who support our program! We look forward to seeing you on Sunday and then again on Tuesday, December 22nd!

Happy Holidays!!

(Kristin Cole is in her third year as UNH women’s basketball head coach.)


GYMNASTICS
“GO BLUE…..GO WHITE!!”

The annual gymnastics “Meet the Team” was held on Saturday, December 12th, and the BLUE team, coached by assistant coach Lindsey Bruck, was victorious. The annual show split the team into two groups and they competed head-to-head to gain points for their respective teams. Co-Captain Helena Diodati led the Blue team, which included Taryn Archambault, Jen Aucoin, Ali Carr, Courtney Connors, Austyn Fobes, Becca Marrama, Kate McGeever, Keeley Smith, and Chelsea Steinberg. Halfway through the competition the Blue team led 7 to 5 points and concluded the day with a 13 to 9 win.

It’s early in the season. However, there were some standout performances on every event. On vaulting, 4 gymnasts performed 10.0 start value vaults successfully. Led by Katie Caliendo (white), Helena Diodati (blue), and Kelsey Alwin (white) performing Yurchenko fulls (round-off onto the vaulting table with a layout back full twist off the table) and Chelsea Steinberg (blue) performing a Yurchenko layout ½ front salto, the team has a good start on this event and needs more depth. Working toward this goal, Taryn Archambault performed a front handspring front pike for the first time in her career and that ignited the entire team’s enthusiasm. She needs to add a ½ twist to get to the 10.0 start value. Six gymnasts compete on each event with five scores counting during the season.

The uneven bars were highlighted by performances from Danielle Reibold (white), Ali Carr (blue), Dianna Kurowyckyj (white), Steinberg (blue) and Keeley Smith (blue). This will be an event where the UNH gymnasts will fight for competitive spots as there is more depth. Upperclassmen Diodati, Grey, and Lawrence had minor breaks in their routines and are expected to be in the lineup as the season gets under way.

Balance beam is always a challenge and requires significant practice time as well as concentration. This event will see the most improvement as the team returns after finals and the Holidays. Top performances at the Meet the Team once again came from Steinberg (blue), who had a great day. Following her were Diodati (blue) and Jen Aucoin (blue). Notice, lots of BLUE…and we always say that whoever hits beam will win the meet. Julie Sauchuk (white) shows great promise with a new routine, including a new dismount and Becca Marrama (blue) stepped it up in competition.

Floor saw an exciting blend of new routines and powerful tumbling. Caliendo (white) finished the day off with a stellar performance including a full-in; round-off whip ½-front layout-front layout, and a last pass of front handspring Rudi (1 ½ twist) to a high flying Shushanova (jump to a straddle and drop to a front lying position) with an immediate turn to her end pose. Sauchuk (white) performed a newly choreographed routine as well and Steinberg (blue) hit her 4th event. Caliendo, Sauchuk, and Steinberg all have new routines choreographed by the blue team coach, Lindsey Bruck. Connors (blue), Smith (blue), Kurowyckyj (white) and Tasia Percevecz (white) all had great floor routines and will fight for spots in the competitive lineup.

Following the exhibition, the team held a girls’ gymnastics clinic that hosted 85 participants. This gave the young gymnasts the opportunity to perform on the competitive floor and work with the UNH gymnasts. The UNH team members serve as role models and have fun coaching the girls.

Overall, it was an exciting start to the year and helped prepare the UNH Gymnastics team for the 2010 season that is about to start. UNH opens at Rutgers on January 9th and returns home for the UNH Invitational vs. Ball State, Utah State, and Yale on January 17th.

“GO WILDCATS”..oh..GO BLUE…GO WHITE!

(Gail Goodspeed is in her 31st year as UNH gymnastics head coach.)


SKIING (alpine)
The Alpine Ski Team is finally getting on snow. It has been a very poor start to winter, at least weather-wise, and hopefully it stays cold from here on in. We have managed a few days on snow in the east. Last weekend we went to a ski area north of Montreal in Quebec called Val Sainte Come to get in some gate training. It is the home hill of senior and 3-time NCAA Qualifier Cynthia Tessier. Her mom was nice enough to let us stay at her house and cook dinners for us. I would like to give a big thank you to her.

After finals end we will kick off our pre-season races. The men are going to Sugarloaf and the women to Sunday River. This will be the first real test of how the team is doing. I expect them to be very strong again this year. Returning, I have 4 out of last years 5 All-Americans: Willie Ford, Mike Cremeno, Veronique Archambault-Leger and Aileen Farrell. However, we definitely miss last year’s Jim Urquhart Student-Athlete of the Year award winner Sean McNamara. But, we will get to see him plenty this winter, since he is the assistant alpine coach at St. Lawrence University.

Strength and Conditioning went extremely well this fall. Chappy had them working very hard in the weight room and I keep trying to find new ways to torture them outside. This fall it was a lot of bike hill sprints and ski specific movements in anaerobic intervals. Another favorite workout of mine is sandpit sprints. We had two weight room records this fall. Willie Ford and Aliza Aylward both broke the all time alpine skiing records for power clean. Willie cleaned 295 and Aliza did 155. And, of course, we played a lot of speed ball.

(Brian Blank ‘95 is in his third year as UNH alpine head coach.)

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