Senior gymnast leads by example

Katie Corbut

Kopp willing to fill voids for her team

The Kent State Women’s gymnastics team has had trouble this season putting together an error-free meet as the team has yet to have a meet with no falls.

Kopp willing to fill voids for her team

The Kent State Women’s gymnastics team has had trouble this season putting together an error-free meet as the team has yet to have a meet with no falls.

Senior Brittany Kopp has been one of the few consistent gymnasts, and brings an element of strength to the team, especially on the beam.

Kopp, a psychology major, plans to attend graduate school or apply for med school after graduation. She plans to enter the professional arena someday in the field of neurology, and is thankful for the concentration and organization the sport has helped her master.

Kopp’s coaches know her academics are important to her, and respect her dedication and concentration.

“She’s very smart and competitive,” coach Sharon Sabin said. “She works really hard for what she wants and she doesn’t like to lose.”

Sabin said that when ‘BK’ (as she’s known to her teammates) first came in to the gym freshman year, she had never competed beam.

“Sophomore and junior year she was kind of questionable, now she’s a solid kid for us on beam,” Sabin said. “It’s great to see how the girls evolve.”

Finding the skills that fit her best and suited the team’s needs became a challenge and Kopp took it on. Now, it’s hard to imagine the beam lineup without her in it.

Kopp said the event has become her favorite.

“I could do beam all day,” she said. “I just started to compete it in college.”

It’s hard for her, as a consistent beam worker, to see her teammates failing to achieve the success she knows they’re capable of.

“The main thing in competing beam is having confidence in yourself,” Kopp said. “The second you doubt yourself, even if you go up thinking you’ll make your routine, that’s not good enough. You have to know you’re going to make it.”

Enjoying her success on beam is short-lived when her teammates fall. She feels the whole point of the competition is for everyone to succeed, and it’s much more exciting when everyone does.

Kopp said that it’s the best feeling to make a routine in a meet, and that the satisfaction of competing a solid routine is unlike any other emotion.

She understands the mental challenges of the beam and strives to help her teammates whenever she can because she sees herself as a role model.

“The problems I see people having, I’ve had the same problems myself,” she said. “I feel like I can relate, so I’ll help them out and lead by example.”

Kopp can definitely be considered a role model. She’s had many personal issues that she hasn’t let affect her gymnastics. During her sophomore year, her sister received a heart transplant, which challenged her focus as an athlete.

“If things are stressing you out outside the gym, if any of that’s in your mind while practicing it, you’re going to have a disastrous day,” Kopp said. “You just have to put everything aside and be in the right mindset. That’s the hardest thing, to be mentally tough.”

Her focus on gymnastics has helped her earn a solid position in the lineup on beam and also on vault. She’s hoping that the team’s new goal of hitting five out of six routines will help push the team into a position of strength just in time for the MAC tournament.

“As of right now, the way our season is going, hitting five out of six routines would be awesome,” she said. “If it just came together at the right time … MAC championships is when it really matters.”

This Friday, however, Kopp is excited to see her team match up against Kentucky, because she feels they will be one of the better teams they’ve faced so far.

“The other teams that came in to the M.A.C. Center were good teams, but they weren’t at our level,” she said. “We just have more depth than them. It will be nice to have a close meet where we really have to pull together.”

Kentucky happens to be coach Sabin’s alma-mater, and she is also excited for the match-up of a MAC team and an SEC team. This week in preparation, Sabin has told the girls that they really need to concentrate on their team and control the things they can control. She believes it will be a good meet to find out who the pressure-athletes are.

“Whether it’s a team ranked 50th or 15th in the country, you still have to go out and do your job,” Sabin said.

“This is our turning point.”

Contact sports reporter Katie Corbut at [email protected].