Whenever the Michigan men’s gymnastics team needs a big routine, senior Gerry Signorelli is the man it looks to. And far more often than not, Signorelli comes through for the Wolverines, calmly hitting every skill as if there was no pressure at all.
“Guys expect me to step up, to hit when they need it,” Signorelli said. “I’ve got the whole team behind me, so (the pressure) is not that bad when you know they are all pulling for you. Besides that, it helps me out, because I know it’s serious. They need me to hit.”
This year’s team may not measure up to the 1999 National Champions in talent just yet, but in Signorelli’s opinion, it has some of the best intangibles of any team he’s been on.
“It’s not the most talented team I’ve ever been on here at Michigan,” Signorelli said. “I came in when some really good guys were competing for Michigan. As far as attitude, (this team is) one of the best ever.”
Signorelli’s performance this year will be a key to Michigan’s success. Like the rest of the team, Michigan coach Kurt Golder is confident that the senior will put up big numbers when crunch-time comes.
“I’m pretty sure he’s going to be capable of getting some big scores by the end of the year,” Golder said. “If things go the way I think they will for him, he’ll be getting us what I call championship-type scores. If everybody gets scores like that, we’ll win the championship.”
Signorelli is not just a clutch performer. He’s a team leader that sets a good example for all his teammates, especially the eight freshmen.
The senior hasn’t missed a single repetition in a workout assignment in his four years as a Wolverine. He also knows how to simultaneously enjoy competition and perform at a very high level.
“When I notice (the freshmen) dealing with some things that they’re not used to, I try and give them a heads up of what’s going on,” Signorelli said. “I try to enjoy myself and work hard, so that they see that that’s a part of (gymnastics) – going out and having a good time because you get to compete for Michigan.”
As a youngster, Signorelli had his own heroes, whose footsteps he now follows. At home in Colorado Springs, Colo., he practiced at the Olympic Training Center, where he observed Olympic gymnasts Brett McClure and Jason Gatson firsthand. And during his freshman year, Signorelli was teammates with several of the members Wolverines’ most recent NCAA championship team.
Both Signorelli and Golder said they believe Michigan will finish the season as one of the top six teams, giving the Wolverines a shot at matching the 1999 champions.
“I feel like we have a chance,” Signorelli said. “We have a good history of being in the top six all the time, so we could definitely win a championship. By midseason, hopefully we can become one unit. For myself, I want to be solid as a rock when the championship meets come around, so (the team) can count on me to hit.”
In addition to getting a shot at the national title, another one of Signorelli’s main goals for the season is to fully enjoy his last year of competition.
“I’ve changed a lot, as everybody does when they go through college,” Signorelli said. “I’ve opened my eyes more now than when I was a freshman to how lucky we are to compete for a university like this. It has also humbled me a lot to see what amazing people have been here, and I just wish I could do something even close to what they’ve done.
“I think I enjoy life a lot more, too. I was pretty happy before I came to (Michigan), and now I don’t even know what I can’t be thankful for.”