Dec. 4, 2002
Think back to your days in college. Do you remember how your parents and other adults always gave you a hard time about sleeping in late? Or maybe they jokingly harassed you for your complaints about the rigors of the college life? It's guaranteed that junior gymnast Kasie Tamayo could make quite an argument about the validity of the strains on her daily life as a collegiate gymnast.
Tamayo is arguably the most talented member of Oklahoma's women's gymnastics team. Along with her other teammates, she is on the Norman campus for a class related activity or practice at least 12 hours a day. For Tamayo, her responsibilities as a student athlete begin before sunrise and end somewhere around the start of West Wing.
At about 5:30 a.m., this all-around athlete rises and gets ready for 6:15 morning conditioning, which consists of running, swimming or various other cardio exercises. Once the team is finished with practice at 7:30 a.m., she heads home for a shower and nap before heading back to campus for morning class.
"It sounds funny because I am taking a nap at eight in the morning," said Tamayo, "but I need that rest or I won't get anything out of afternoon workouts."
Tamayo is taking 12 hours this semester, which spreads three classes out between the 9 a.m. and practice at 1:30 p.m. She is a sociology/criminology major who, like your average 20 year old, doesn't yet know what she wants to do with her life.
"I was a business major but it didn't hold my interest," said Tamayo. "I am not sure what I want to due with my major and I always think about that in class. I just want my work to be interesting and exciting."
Practice begins at 1:30 with a team meeting, followed by about 30 minutes of warming up and stretching. Then the team breaks into different groups and works on specific skills or events throughout the three and a half hour practice. Today, at least half the squad is working on their vaults.
"This part of the season is a grind for the athletes," said OU Head Coach Steve Nunno. "The season is so far away and the intensity of our two daily workouts catches up with them. It's really hard to see improvement when you're not in front of the judges and seeing your progress in scores."
After practice Tamayo takes another trip home for a quick meal, shower and change of clothes. Then it's back to campus for mandatory study hall.
"Study hall is different for everyone on the team," said Tamayo. "I have to do six hours a week but the freshman have to do 10 hours. It is effective for me because it really helps me get my work done. By the time I get out of study hall it is usually 9 p.m. and I am in bed by 11 p.m."
Tamayo admits, with a bit of guilt, that she crashes early for the average college student. However, to keep up with her daily routine, the rest is a necessity. So what's the hardest part about being a student athlete?
"I never seem to have enough time," said Tamayo. "Finding time to do the most basic things becomes tough. I always do my laundry or homework after my morning nap because I don't have time when I get home after study hall. Some days it is tough to find time to eat meals at a normal time, as opposed to late at night."
Tamayo credits OU's athletic department with providing plenty of assistance on the academic side. She has all kinds of academic assistance available to her including a math lab, computer lab and Spanish tutoring. The assistance helps Tamayo and other student-athletes balance their often-overbearing schedules.
Does she still have time for a social life and to enjoy the college experience?
"Study hall and football games are great places to meet all the other student-athletes," said Tamayo. "We all go to every football game and everyone has required study hall, so you naturally becomes friends with athletes from every sport. The games are always so much fun. In general, we have fun together despite the fact that we don't have as much free time as other students."