February 2019

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191 C harlotte Sullivan stated the obvious Jan. 9 when she spoke at a University of Iowa Athletics Department all-staff meeting in Carver-Hawkeye Arena: "ere are so many amazing athletes already in America," the Hawkeye junior said. e Iowa women's gymnastics team had room for one more in Sullivan, who is from Christchurch, New Zealand. "I was lucky to be picked from the other side of the world," Sullivan said. "I am grateful to all my coaches for that and giving me this opportunity to come here." Sullivan has personal best performances of 39.300 in all-around, 9.925 on bars, 9.875 on vault, 9.875 on floor, and 9.875 on beam. During the 2018 season, she earned three all-around titles to go with two titles on bars, one on beam, and one on floor. As a freshman in 2017, Sullivan was twice named Big Ten Freshman of the Week. She notices a difference between training and competing in her home country compared to NCAA Division I gymnastics in the United States. "ere are a couple changes from club gymnastics for me," Sullivan said. "One of the biggest ones is that we work so much on mental training and the mental side of the sport. Everyone on my team and the athletes here have been doing this for so long. It is more than being physically able to do gymnastics now, it's working on the mental side and I never had that at home." Sullivan recalls her official visit to Iowa City. "e girls were so sweet and lovely," she said. What made the biggest impact is how the Hawkeyes took a stranger from New Zealand and immediately helped her feel part of the University of Iowa family. "at is so special for people to be able to do in just a couple days without even meeting them before," Sullivan said. "Aer the visit I knew this was the place for me." One of the first things Sullivan learned at Iowa was independence. "e first weeks when I arrived were pretty hard and I had to make a few adjustments," she said. "I became independent very quickly. e girls, coaches, and staff here were so supportive and helpful. I remember my first couple nights, my roommate wasn't here, so I was in the dorms by myself. e seniors on the team at the time let me stay with them. A small thing like that made me feel at home and welcome and I knew I made the right decision to come here." An elementary education major who was named to the Big Ten Conference All-Academic team, Sullivan would like to get a teaching job in New Zealand upon graduation. "Aer that I will have plenty of excuses to come back to Iowa City, meet everyone again, come back for meets, and be a part of it for a very long time," she said. But first, she gets to enjoy two more seasons of gymnastics. Sullivan made her season debut Jan. 13 at New Hampshire, scoring 9.825 on bars and 9.600 on vault. e Hawkeyes have two home events remaining this season: Feb. 16 against Illinois and March 1 against Iowa State. "We have this little thing at our meets when one person competes, once they are finished and present to the judges, they will go back to the next person and give a little fist bump and words of encouragement," Sullivan said. "Seeing that and knowing that everyone has each other's back makes us such a close team. at is special and what makes us stand out from some other teams."

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