Graceful Exit: Part 2
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INSIDE: Was there pressure to get back to where you had been as an Elite?
VISE: There was no way I was going to be Elite Hollie again. I mean, I had gone through puberty. I grew up.
I never felt any pressure to look the way I had before, but I did feel pressure to be as good as I used to be, just because that was the way people remembered me. But by the time I did compete again I was just really proud of myself, and how far I’d come.
INSIDE: When we interviewed coach Kindler in March she told us she let you know from day one that she thought you could do the all-around at OU. Did you believe that would ever happen?
VISE: [Laughing] Not really! But, on the other hand, that’s what I needed to hear, because I kind of felt like everyone didn’t believe in me. I still believed in myself, because I know that if I put my mind to something I can do it. Still—and it might have been in my head, or stuff I read on the Internet—hearing that K.J. believed in me was really important.
I was really confused and scared. I think deep down, yeah, I wanted to be a really great college gymnast, I just wasn’t sure how I was going to get there.
…Looking back, I think that if I hadn’t had that year or whatever [out of the gym] I would have been completely burned out. I think that, even though it made it really hard when I got here, I think that taking that time off gave me time to get over everything and start fresh. I came back with a new outlook on gymnastics.
INSIDE: This year got off to an inauspicious start when you had to have a tonsillectomy in November after a series of illnesses—all of which could have been a great excuse to have a bad senior season. Instead, you were better and stronger than ever. Where did that come from?
VISE: I was getting strep or tonsillitis every week for a month. It was risky having the surgery over Thanksgiving break, but after two weeks of being unable to train, I felt like I had no choice.
I had the surgery and just as soon as I started to get all the way back, it was time to go home for Christmas break so, yeah, it was hard. But I think the difference was just that I did everything I could. I worked as hard as I could to get back, as fast as I could. Yeah, I wasn’t in the gym, but it wasn’t an illness that got me out of shape. I lost muscle and was kind of weak but my skills were all there.
INSIDE: Were you surprised by how well you performed in your senior season?
[Pauses then laughs] I mean, I decided after last season. I knew I only had one year of gymnastics left in me and I wanted it to be a great one. I wanted to go out with a bang. I didn’t want to have any regrets, or leave anything on the table. I wanted to show everyone what I could do.
I had a mission: I was going to have a great season.
INSIDE: Was adding events part of that mission?
VISE: My first year I only did beam, because that’s all I could do. Then I did beam and some bars. Then I’d been vaulting, a little bit, on and off, in previous years, so I thought maybe I could do that. But I hadn’t done floor at all [until] this summer. Nothing.
INSIDE: And you not only made NCAA floor finals but finished second, less than a half tenth from a national title …
VISE: That was an amazing moment. I was like, ‘Oh my God, did that just happen?’
At the beginning of the season it was just new and fun to even train it, because I hadn’t had a floor routine in, like, five years. I hadn’t tumbled at all. We started from scratch.
…At first [K.J.] told me she didn’t really know what to do with me, because she had never really seen me dance. But then we started working on it and she saw my style, and I think it definitely fit. It felt natural. I loved that routine.
At the beginning of the season I was right on the edge of making the line-up; that last person who would be in or out. I was just hoping to get to compete. They put me in the first meet and I stayed in all season. I got better and better and started moving down the line-up and it was like, ‘This is awesome!’
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