Sept. 5, 2002
Oklahoma Head women's gymnastics Coach Steve Nunno has been at the helm for two season now, one as co-head coach. Prior to Oklahoma became nationally famous as the coach of Olympian and Oklahoman Shannon Miller. His success at the club and Olympic levels, translated in one of the greatest years in the program's history. The team finished the 2002 season ranked No. 9 with a 16-6 record.
Talk about your three seniors and who you see developing as the team leader?
All three girls have great leadership qualities. Christy Gerard transferred in last year and had a banner season. Unfortunately, this is her last season. She may have to specialize on a few events because we just don't have time to develop her as an all-arounder, which is unfortunate.
Leah Mueller has been our best vaulter for the last few years and was our top all-arounder at NCAA's two years ago. She healthier at this point today than she was last year. I expect her to be a leader by example on and off the mat.
I think all in all Patricia Aoki is coming into her own and should lead this team. If anyone is going to take Mariana Goncalzes' (finished third at NCAA championship in 2001) place, it will be another Brazilian and Patricia's ready. She just looks great right now. She is in great shape and has an excellent attitude at all times.
What needs to be done between now and mid-January when the season begins?
We are currently in our fitness program. Trying to get the team physically where they need to be. Gymnastically we need to start looking at routines and upgrading skills. We haven't started implementing new moves, but we will soon, which is something we are all excited about.
This seasons' theme is 'New & Improved', talk about it's meaning and how you see it motivating your team?
We are using 'New & Improved' mainly because we aren't completely changed. We got a group of girls who are going to make our scores improve and new because half our squad just arrived at OU.
What is a key to this season, that the casual fan may not pick up on?
Our team right now is all about depth. Every performer fits into our group. Last year we were consistent, but we had to rely on luck sometimes. This year you're going to see excitement and skill from every gymnast we put on the mat.
Talk about the six newcomers to the 2003 squad?
We have six girls, one transfer and two walk-ons. I expect all of them to come in and contribute immediately. I think their progress could push this program to new heights.
Nicole Gause- Nicole transferred from Arizona State. She was the Texas state champion and I really felt all along she was the best athlete there. I began recruiting her at that meet and found out she had verbally committed to Arizona State. I was shocked but not discouraged. Next thing I know she switches and commits to us. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. She is the hardest worker on the team at this point
Meredith Fricke- She has the best attitude on the team and tons of energy. She's battling back from fairly recent shoulder surgery and the recovery process is coming along very well. She's surprising herself with how good she can be.
Haggerty- Her father is the publishing editor for Buccaneer Magazine, on top of doing some radio coverage for the Tampa Bay Buccaneer football team. So she's been around big time sports for a while. On top of the fact that her mom puts on some of the biggest gymnastics meets in the country. She came in from a small club and the biggest transition for her is understanding the highest level of gymnastics. She's making a great adjustment though and I have no doubts about her because she give 100 percent all the time.
Katie Hostler- I think she is the most comfortable so far, she already found her niche on the team and within the program. She's surprisingly powerful and dynamic, which will help us tremendously on floor and vault.
Melissa Smith- She's coming off of wrist surgery which has sidelined her for nearly a year. Thus she's not in competition shape yet, but we'll get her there. She needs to get completely healthy first. The talent hasn't gone anywhere, she's an amazing gymnast who has finished second at USA Nationals. We really expect a lot out of Melissa and she welcomes that challenge because her standards are just as high.
Tara Anderson- Tara is the quiet leader. She came into camp in great shape, better than we expected. She's the fastest of the runners and gymnastically she has unlimited potential.
Is there a special feeling to this team since it includes your first recruiting class?
The whole team has blended together surprisingly well. Coaches' in this situation worry about factions appearing and dividing a team. We don't seem to have that. We have a nice mix of personalities. The freshmen seem so comfortable it's scary. I'd almost rather have them a little jittery right now, but that comfort could turn into reliability. I'd love to see that.