Three good things.
It’s the motto Chip Hills used while he was living through pancreatic cancer. It’s the motto he wrote so much about in his letter to the Michigan women’s gymnastics team. It’s the motto the team has come to live by.
Chip Hills was the dad of former Michigan gymnast Cailee Hills. In 2015, the Wolverines began the Flip for Chip meet. A way to honor Chip and his love for Michigan gymnastics, but also to remind people that sometimes it’s about more than just gymnastics.
“I think it’s just awesome to come out here and just know that our gymnastics can reach so many different people,” freshman Sierra Brooks said. “And there’s always bigger things going on in people’s lives than what it seems like.”
Three good things was Chip’s motto not only through his cancer treatment, but also throughout life. It was customary for the Hills family to sit down at dinner and each say three good things that happened in their day. And the motto extended far beyond the Hill’s family dinner table.
“Honestly, it’s just something that we say in the gym all the time, and it can apply to so many different circumstances,” Brooks said. “It just tells us to put our struggles in perspective and get through the hard things even when it doesn’t seem like it. “
While there were mutliple positives resulting from the Wolverines’ Friday night meet against Rutgers, 197.300 to 192.950, the Daily breaks down three that stood out.
Sophomore Natalie Wojcik’s beam routine
The crowd in Crisler Center erupted as Natalie Wojcik flipped off the beam, sticking the landing of her dismount. She posted a score of 9.950, the highest of the night. Wojcik was the NCAA Champion on beam last year, and despite a bit of a slower start this year, she broke through the wall on Friday.
“She really came out tonight and showed what she’s capable of doing,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. “Hopefully, this will give her more confidence to continue to perform at this level.”
Freshman Sierra Brooks’ all-around performance
Despite her young age, Brooks has continued to dominate each event, at every meet. Last week, she was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week. On Friday night, she continued to put that stellar reputation to the test. She competed all-around — which is a feat in itself for a freshman. Staying consistent through all four events, she posted scores all above 9.800, with a 9.900 on beam.
“Overall I’m pretty happy with my performance,” Brooks said. “It just comes down to fixing the small things, working on things for the future, but cohesively I’m just pretty happy with how I did.”
As the Wolverines continue the high-level competition they’re known for, it could be hard to improve, but Michigan showed it was possible on Friday night by increasing their team score by six-tenths of a point from their recent meet against Illinois. Such improvement is due to their focus to detail.
“I think this meet went really well,” said Wojcik. “We’ve been working on improving things week to week and I think we’re starting to really get there.”
On Thursday, the day before the meet, the Wolverines’ entire focus was on detail. In a floor drill they call shoot-out, the focus was on making eye contact with the audience during a floor routine.
For Michigan its about more than the skills, its about the performance, the show and the crowd. This fine attention to detail continues to add to the Wolverines’ point total. And part of focusing on the audience means remembering people like Chip.
In an opening video, the Wolverines highlighted the importance of Friday’s meet.
“This time we compete to honor someone. … This time we flip for Chip.”