April 5, 2013
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's April edition of Hawk Talk Monthly, the UI athletics department's online publication.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The senior group comprising the core of the University of Iowa men's gymnastics line-up has had a number of standout individual accomplishments.
Javier Balboa, Broderick Shemansky and Anton Gryshayev advanced to the NCAA Championships in 2012, while Shemansky earned first team All-Big Ten honors. Matt McGrath (redshirting this season) earned All-America honors in 2011.
The group -- Balboa, Todd Becker, Gryshayev, McGrath, Shemansky, and junior Jack McClay -- will be remembered more though for laying the program's foundation under head coach JD Reive. All were in Iowa City when he arrived.
When a new coach is hired, its success can depend on whether or not the student-athletes on the roster embrace their new leader. To say this group has, would be an understatement.
"They have been absolutely crucial -- between new guys coming in and establishing a new culture," said Reive. "They were guys that I had to win over, gain their trust and get them to buy in. It is a three-year process."
Iowa has enjoyed success in 2013, including three-straight Big Ten dual victories against defending national champion Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska.
"The things we are seeing this year -- successful recruiting, a contributing freshman class, the meets that we have won -- are based on that buy-in process," said Reive. "They have a great presence within the team -- socially, athletically and academically -- and were a very important group for me to win over.
"I did not recruit them, they were here. When they look back, they are almost more important than the great recruiting class that comes in a year or two from now and wins a championship. It was the guys that were here that changed the culture and really bought into the championship mentality. They will be able to look back and say, `I was a part of that.' In time, they will be able to look back and know they had huge responsibility and led the program where it is at right now."
-- UI head coach JD Reive
"Nothing is fun if it is not hard. My job as a coach is to tell you the things you do not want to hear, make you do things you do not want to do, so that you can eventually be the athlete that you have no idea you can be. They are getting there, and it is a lot more fun when everybody is on the same page. We are putting our best foot forward as a group."
Reive was given the task of rebuilding a proud Hawkeye program. Iowa, the 1969 national champions, has won seven Big Ten team championships and crowned 93 individual Big Ten champions. Reive continues to work to establish the culture in Iowa City, and this group has been a crucial element.
"They have led the way," said Reive, now in his third year. "They are mature and know the system, and experienced both coaching staffs. They know what we are trying to do. They can lead the way, and everyone else is going to follow. A lot of the recruiting, and the kids we have signed, came through them."
Reive wants this group to finish strong.
"I want them to be successful, compete well, and be proud of what they have helped us accomplish," said Reive.
Most importantly, Reive will look back on this group as the one who helped lay the foundation.
"I did not recruit them, they were here," said Reive. "When they look back, they are almost more important than the great recruiting class that comes in a year or two from now and wins a championship. It was the guys that were here that changed the culture and really bought into the championship mentality. They will be able to look back and say, `I was a part of that.'
"In time, they will be able to look back and know they had huge responsibility and led the program where it is at right now."
The Hawkeyes will travel to Minneapolis to compete on Friday and Saturday in the 2013 Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships. The two-day event will be held at the Sports Pavilion with action beginning both days at 7 p.m. (CT). Both sessions will be televised live on BTN.