Michigan women’s gymnastics coach Bev Plocki is so
passionate about getting the student body to come out to home meets
that she’s willing to pay students just for showing up.

Candace Mui
Junior Lauren Mirkovich posted a 9.900 on the uneven bars against Michigan State last weekend, despite falling during warmups. It was only her second meet after returning from a wrist injury (Jason Cooper/Daily)

Well, almost. Plocki helped initiate a contest this year that
promises at least a $500 tuition credit for one lucky football,
basketball or hockey season ticket holder who is in attendance at a
Wolverines’ home meet.

Why would Plocki fund such a contest with her own money when
Michigan already has a solid fan base in the Ann Arbor
community?

“It’s really an effort to get more support from our
student body,” Plocki said. “Like basketball came up
with the Maize Rage, we would love to be able to get a
‘superfan’ type of group from our student population
together. And this is one way to start going in the right
direction.”

Plocki thinks most students just need to come to one meet before
getting hooked on the sport.

“I think that women’s gymnastics is one of the
best-kept secrets (on campus),” Plocki said. “I am
extremely convinced that if students come and watch it once they
will come back.”

PR for the Sr: Senior Christine Mantilia stepped on to
her home mat and flourished on Friday night, putting up career-best
performances on the vault and the floor exercise, earning a 9.825
on both events. It was Mantilla’s first competition in front
of a home crowd this season and only the second time she competed
two events in a meet this year.

Mantilia missed her junior season with a torn ACL. “It
felt really good. It was really exciting to get back into it
again,” Mantilla said. “Training’s been going
well, and competition’s pretty similar to training, so it
went really well.”

Plocki hopes Mantilla will build on this performance and become
a solid contributor for the Wolverines.

“This really needs to be her year, and it’s looking
like it could potentially shape up to be a great year for
her,” Plocki said. “I hope that this will springboard
her into having more confidence and going out there to continue to
perform and improve.”

Bouncin’ back: After falling during her warm up
routine on the uneven bars, junior Lauren Mirkovich showed the
crowd her mental toughness by notching a 9.900 on the event,
boosting her team to its best bars score of the season. It was only
her second meet after returning from a wrist injury suffered in
early January.

“It doesn’t really faze me, because you know
you’re going to mess up sometimes,” Mirkovich said.
“I just think about the technique first, and think
‘This is the meet, I have to do it like I know how.’

The Wolverines have already shown their ability to remain
focused even when the worst mistakes happen. Plocki says this is
all part of the gymnast mentality.

“It’s all about when you get ready and you’re
staring down the apparatus you’re about to mount,”
Plocki said. “It’s all about being 100 percent
confident in your mind that, ‘I’m going to hit
this.’ ”

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