Tucson, AZ - After their meet against UCLA a year ago, first-year Wildcat gymnastics head coach Tabitha Yim said the following:
"Did you feel that energy? Did you feel the love that's coming from our team and the chemistry that's on the floor? That's what we're building here. We're building a family."
Tabitha Yim's 2016 Wildcat family wasted little time continuing the rich tradition of Arizona gymnastics. In year one, she guided the Cats to another NCAA regional appearance, topping that off by helping senior Lexi Mills advance to the NCAA championship in what would be Arizona's first individual bid in four seasons.
Given Yim's calm collected demeanor, it would be easy to believe that in her first full year as a collegiate head coach, she knew exactly what she what she was doing. Except, that would be naïve.
"When I was at Stanford I focused a lot on how I could assist our head coach," said Yim. "Really didn't think about the other people who are a part of the process."
The reality check came quickly.
"Coming here to Arizona, I've been amazed it really takes an army to do what we do. I've had to rely on so many people around me and I feel very very grateful for that support."
If year one was about setting the foundation, year two is about seeing how high the program can fly.
"We had a lot of veterans on the team last year so we could rely on consistency," said Yim. "This year we've got ten underclassmen."
To be more specific, ten underclassmen that include six freshman. Such a change calls for a shift in dynamics.
"We have so many new faces and new people in different lineups," said Yim. "One of the most important things to do at the beginning of the season is provide the experience for our athletes that they need to be successful at the end of the year. We're going to get as many people out on the floor as we can and really test those big routines. Those big skills. Whereas last year we were bit more conservative. This year we really want to put the big gymnastics out there on the floor.
Big gymnastics means come show time, expect some fireworks.
"I will promise you this," said Yim. "There will not be a dull moment. There will be a lot of action on the floor."