Botterman juggles wedding plans, gymnastics amid solid season

Erin Kirkland/Daily
Senior Kylee Botterman competes against Maryland, Kent State, and University of Illinois-Chicago on Saturday, Jan. 29. 2011 at Crisler arena. The team won with a score of 195.875. Buy this photo

BY MATT SPELICH
For the Daily
Published February 2, 2011

Kylee Botterman has a lot more on her mind than just gymnastics.

When the senior gymnast isn’t busy winning competitions, prepping for nationals or working hard in the classroom, she’s planning her wedding to former Michigan hockey star Chad Kolarik.

Kolarik proposed to Botterman over winter break after a three-year, long-distance relationship. The wedding is set for August in Botterman’s hometown of Chicago.

“Ky is pretty special in that she can manage all three things — gymnastics, school and the wedding plans,” said Kolarik in an e-mail interview with The Michigan Daily. “Gymnastics to her is truly fun and she enjoys it so much (that) it honestly takes care of itself. She will be the first to tell you that the wedding planning is the most stressful.”

Despite the stress of planning her big day, Botterman is having the best season of her Michigan career.

While the Wolverines (4-1 Big Ten, 9-1 overall) are currently ranked first in the Big Ten and eighth nationally, Botterman is ranked third in the country. She was named Big Ten Gymnast of the Week in four of the last five weeks — a Michigan program record.

“I’m happy that I’m up there,” Botterman said. “I’m not one to pay attention to the rankings because they don’t mean anything, they don’t get us anywhere. A team that’s ranked 30th can beat a team ranked fifth … I’m just working hard and trying to go out with a bang my senior year.”

From her first appearance at Michigan, Botterman has made a strong impact on the sport. Her achievements include making the NCAA All-America team three years running and winning Michigan Newcomer of the Year by the Athletic Department in 2008. This year, she is going for her fourth Big Ten Championship. But Botterman is still very focused on her team’s goals going into the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments.

“We have a lot of potential in this young team, and we haven’t gotten to really show it yet,” Botterman said. “So we’re very excited for the next couple of challenging meets to see what we can put together for the rest of this year.”

The Wolverines have potential, indeed. With seven competing freshmen, their winning record is a testament to the leadership of seniors like Botterman and of Michigan coach Bev Plocki.

Plocki is confident that Botterman and her teammates can finish the season strongly despite having to compete against some of the nation's top teams in Michigan's upcoming meets — including No. 2 Stanford and No. 3 Utah.

“Kylee is what we call a meet baby," Plocki said. "When those lights come on, that’s when she really shines the most … she loves competition, that’s where she thrives. She’s just really team-oriented. She just goes out every week and does her very best for Michigan.”

This week, Botterman and the team prepare to face the Cardinal and the No. 9 Nebraska at home.