SALT LAKE CITY - Gathering in a picturesque locale and leaving behind the daily rigors of being a student-athlete, the Utah gymnastics team held its fifth annual Life Skills Retreat Sept. 1-3 at the Silver Star Resort in Park City, Utah.
"This retreat is very important for setting up our season," said co-head coach Greg Marsden. "It's an opportunity for us to get away from our hectic schedules on campus and really focus on the team. Cell phones aren't allowed in the meetings and we really focus on just `us.' It sets the stage for the expectations of our program and the roles everyone will take on to fulfill those expectations."
The team arrived mid-day on Saturday and spent the afternoon and evening getting to know each other better. The gymnasts shared their background stories, family and personal life experiences, how they got started in gymnastics, and why they chose to join the Red Rocks.
"Sharing personal information about each other is really important to our team bonding and becoming a family," said co-head coach Megan Marsden. "The freshmen see right away from the older girls that it's O.K. to talk about the good and the bad, and that it's important to lay yourself out there."
During the day on Sunday, the gymnasts paired-up to lead 30-minute discussions on various topics:
- Expectations in school, gymnastics and social life
- Responsibility, accountability and leadership
- Communication with teammates and staff, and social networking
- Nutrition, fitness and recovery
- Underage and binge drinking/Performance enhancing and street drugs
- Building relationships
- Role models
"The coaching staff is involved and we express our thoughts on the various topics, but this is really student-athlete led retreat," said Greg Marsden. "We had just gone through two weeks of conditioning, and this retreat was about getting ready for the season mentally. It was about talking, sharing experiences, passing down the traditions of our program, creating the family atmosphere we want, and giving our gymnasts the life skills they need to be successful."
Applying what they had learned, the team created a vision board for the season ahead Sunday evening. The gymnasts worked together without supervision, placing various images and messages they had gathered on a foam block U. They then presented their finished product to the coaching staff.
The retreat wrapped up after breakfast on Monday with each gymnast talking about their strengths, weaknesses, and ways they can improve.
"The girls were especially well prepared this year," said Megan Marsden. "They really did a good job of including the most important things in their presentations. They did the teaching. That allowed the coaches the opportunity to just embellish on things and tell stories to help illustrate what had been talked about. It was great to see that they took so much ownership."