At the beginning of the season, one name was associated with Michigan women’s gymnastics. By the end of the season, that same name has become synonymous with NCAA women’s gymnastics.That name is Kylee Botterman.

Botterman, Michigan’s captain and All-Around sensation, completed her senior season with the highest accolades that can be awarded to an NCAA athlete.

Among her individual achievements, Botterman has been named the Big Ten Gymnast of the Year, NCAA All-Around Champion and the 2011 AAI Award winner for the top gymnast in the NCAA. She is also the front-runner for the prestigious Honda Award, decided on April 22nd.

With all the individual attention, Botterman attributes her success to one thing — confidence.

“I don’t think I’m the most talented gymnast in the country,” Botterman said. “But I am confident. I believe in what I’m going to do before I get on the apparatus, and that’s something most people struggle with. I really value self-confidence and the mental aspects of gymnastics and I think my mental strength has led to a successful career.”

In the moments leading up to her final team competition, while she was dancing through her floor routine, Botterman was almost moved to tears.

“In the middle of my routine I almost started to cry,” Botterman said. “I was like, ‘This is my last competition.’ And while all the girls were lined up along the side I started to say, ‘I love gymnastics guys, I just love it,’ and they all just started making fun of me. It was kind of a cheese ball thing to do, but I’m really going to miss these moments.”

After the Wolverines finished last at the NCAA Super Six this past weekend, Michigan coach Bev Plocki could do nothing but smile when commenting on Botterman and her career in Ann Arbor.

“(Botterman) has been the heart and soul of our program,” Plocki said. “This season was an unbelievable season for her. She missed one routine the entire year, which is unheard of … To say that we’re going to miss her next year is really an understatement. She’s a very special athlete, and more importantly a very special person.”

While many would assume an athlete with Botterman’s ability and love for her sport would have aspirations to compete at the next level, this will actually be her final year of competition.

Instead she is focused on graduation and on her wedding to former Michigan hockey star Chad Kolarik. The Wolverine power couple has finally set the date — August 5.

Botterman has become a name synonymous with many words, but she has always been a woman of very few. She summed up the end of her career in one sentence.

“The ride has been fun, but bittersweet now that it’s done,” Botterman said.

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