For anyone who is serious about competing in collegiate
gymnastics, experience on a high school gymnastics team is of
minimal importance.

Julie Pannuto
Sophomore Becca Clauson has the chance to compete for the Wolverines with lifelong friend Carol McNamara. (RYAN WEINER/Daily)

Throughout the country, elite gymnasts compete on club teams,
often beginning at a very young age. This is due to the fact that
many high schools do not even have a gymnastics program. The few
that do are not of the same caliber as the club teams. Most of the
college recruiting that occurs takes place through the club
teams.

Sophomore Becca Clauson began going to TAGS Gymnastics Club in
Minnesota when she was two years old. Throughout middle school and
high school, Clauson dedicated much of her time to gymnastics,
traveling straight from school to the club for about
four-and-a-half hours of practice for five days a week. Freshman
Carol McNamara joined Clauson at TAGS Gymnastics Club when she
moved to Minnesota in eighth grade and the girls quickly became
friends.

The duo remained close and competed together until Clauson
graduated in 2002 and moved on to Michigan. But the friendship was
soon rekindled when McNamara decided to become a Wolverine just one
year later.

Although Clauson and McNamara enjoyed being on the same club
team, both said that the experience was quite different than
competing at Michigan.

“When you’re in club (gymnastics), you’re on
your own and you don’t focus as much on team,” Clauson
said. “But once you get here, you want your teammates to do
well and you get more excited for them.

“There’s a little more pressure because you’re
not just performing for yourself, so a mistake would be a mistake
for the team and not just for you,” McNamara said.

McNamara added that this works both ways because success as well
as failure is shared by teammates.

When asked why she decided to attend Michigan, Clauson
referenced a Michigan vs. Minnesota meet she attended at the age of
12. The Wolverines won the meet, and from that day forward, Clauson
had an inclination toward Michigan. But both Clauson and McNamara
said that they knew for certain that Michigan was the school for
them after visiting the University and spending time with the
team.

“When I came here, I just felt so comfortable with the
team and I loved the coaches,” McNamara said.

Clauson noted that, in addition to sharing success and cheering
for teammates at meets, coming to practice every day is easier in
college than it was on the club team.

“Even though you have a team, you’re competitive
against each of the members on the team (in club
competition),” Clauson said. “But here it’s just
all team first, which makes it so much more fun to come to
practice.”

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