April 2016

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127 A lie Glover relishes the opportunity to take a final walk down the tunnel onto the com- petition floor in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. She gets that chance when the 19th ranked Uni- versity of Iowa women's gymnastics team hosts the NCAA Regional Championships, welcoming No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 12 Nebraska, No. 13 Arkansas, No. 30 Kent State, and No. 35 Central Michigan on April 2 for a right to advance to the NCAA Cham- pionships in Fort Worth, Texas. "It's indescribable (to have this meet at Carver- Hawkeye Arena), I would not have it any other way," said Glover, a senior from Destin, Florida. "To be at home, the first place I walked out for my first competition as a Hawkeye and to have it be my last, it's an incredible opportunity, but it also drives me to have it not be my last. "I am motivated for this team to have the opportu- nity to go to nationals. If it is my last, it is awesome and bittersweet at the same time, but we're moti- vated and pushing for that reason. It's at home, on our home turf, and it's something we can defend and work for." Glover started in gymnastics at the age of 3 when her mother, Wendy, took her to a "Mommy and Me" class at a local gym. "It kind of took off from there," said Glover. "I never looked back." Like many young gymnasts, Glover had aspira- tions of being an Olympian. When she reached a point in middle school where she realized that wasn't attainable, focusing on continuing to excel collegiately was the next best thing. "I always knew I didn't want to stop doing gym- nastics," she said. Glover's first correspondence with the University of Iowa came when she received a letter in the mail from UI head coach Larissa Libby. e two com- municated by phone a few times before Glover decided to go on an unofficial visit to Iowa City. "It's a long way from home, but when I came here, saw the campus and met the team, I fell in love," said Glover. "Even though it was so far away, it felt like a second home right off the bat. at's why I decided this was the right place." Glover was Libby's "first shot" in the state of Flor- ida, and she became the first in a Florida-to-Iowa pipeline that also includes Mollie Drenth, Nikki Youd, Rose Piorkowski, and Maria Ortiz. "e Florida market blew up," said Libby. "If one goes, then it must not be too bad. Everybody real- ized they could survive the winter. She blazed the trail and it has been a slow and steady one-a-year pick-up since. Everyone has been awesome." Glover stepped into the lineup as a true freshman, earning Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors and being the only Hawkeye to compete in the all- around in all 12 meets. e following season, she rode a strong regular season to a bid as an indi- vidual in the NCAA Regionals. As a junior, Glover broke through, leading the team on vault, and being named to the Big Ten All-Championship team. She helped the Hawkeyes to a season-high score of 196.500 at the Big Ten Championships to earn a fih-place finish and qualify to NCAA Regionals. "e Big Tens last year was a special experience for our team," said Glover. "It all came together and clicked. We were out there, excited, and cheering. It was an energy that we never felt before. To have that click there and to be able to build on that this season is a special moment for us and me." During her senior season, Glover has emerged as a team leader. Although Libby doesn't name team captains (she wants leaders to emerge on their own) Glover has been a steadying influence on the Hawkeyes. "She leads without that hand-in-fist mentality," said Libby. "She is the person that makes sure the

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