Sept. 20, 2012
THE SEA RANCH, Calif. - The women's gymnastics team benefitted one of the many plusses of the San Francisco Bay Area last weekend by traveling to the Sonoma Coast for a team retreat. The 14 Golden Bears - along with head coach Justin Howell and assistant coach Elisabeth Crandall - headed to the Sea Ranch for three days of team bonding.
"We had an amazing weekend along the Sonoma Coast," Howell said. "The surroundings were stunning, and it was a great opportunity to leave the real world behind for a few days and solely focus on our team. We went into the weekend to learn to communicate more effectively and leave the weekend truly believing that we are a family - and we did just that."
Howell was an assistant coach with the Bears last season, taking over the helm during this summer. Joining the team this year are assistant coach Elisabeth Crandall and three freshmen - Kristina Heymann, Serena Leon and Jordan Widener. The team retreat was a perfect opportunity for the new and returning members to connect with each other.
"This is my fourth year with Cal gymnastics, and we've participated in a variety of retreats and team-building activities, but I have never felt more close to my teammates and coaches than I have coming out this year's retreat at the Sea Ranch," senior Chelsea Spomer said. "I feel grateful to be a part of this team, and I am unbelievably excited for what we can accomplish this season as a cohesive unit that is 100 percent committed to reaching our potential."
In addition to getting to know each other, the focus of the retreat was to build communication channels and develop walks. To achieve these goals, the Bears participated in such team-building exercises as a non-verbal trust walk, the human knot, taking hikes together and enjoying a relaxing and fun movie night.
"I really enjoyed getting to know our team even more, and I am excited about the passion that we all have for our sport, for Cal and for each other," Howell said. "It's going to be a great year!"
Furthermore, the team developed a mission statement for the season that truly embodies its zeal for the sport of gymnastics and the team -
Cal women's gymnastics is committed to letting our passion fuel our actions, choosing to see the positives even in the face of adversity and trusting ourselves and believing in each other as a cohesive unit.
"Being on the Cal women's gymnastics team is a privilege, and few people have the opportunity to experience what it is like to be on a competitive team like this," Heymann said. "I am very excited to be a part of a team where everyone truly loves gymnastics, is supportive of each other, and is committed to working hard and pushing each other to reach their full potential."
The Bears recently started their fall training camp to prepare for the season, which gets underway in early January with a quad meet against such powerhouses as Auburn, Kentucky and Arizona.