Q & A with Minnesota Gymnast Guillermo Alvarez

April 6, 2005

Minnesota senior Guillermo Alvarez took some time before the 2005 Men's Gymnastics Championships to talk about his college career, his determination and some of his fears. Alvarez finished third in the all-around competition at the 2005 championships and claimed a Big Ten title in the vault event.

Looking back at your college career so far, what are your overall thoughts about where you are at?

I am so pleased. Since first coming to the U of M I have grown a lot mentally and intellectually. I am so pleased with my athletic and academic accomplishments in these four years.

What do you do to stay calm and focused at critical times?

I try to clear my mind of anything that might distract me or have a negative effect. During meets I focus on my upcoming performance and try not to watch or think about other teams' performances.

What have been some of the difficulties this season that both you and your team have gone through?

The period following Fred's (Roethlisberger) retirement, which left the team without a head coach was fairly difficult. We were without a clear sense of direction and were anxious and excited to see who the new coach would be. Our assistant coaches, Kyle Zak and Russ Fystrom did an excellent job keeping us focused on practice and the upcoming season.

Why did you choose to go to attend Minnesota?

Initially, I was not planning on going to a university for gymnastics. Fred Roethlisberger visited me and had me come on a trip to the U of M. The idea of college gymnastics was very inviting, and I enjoyed the campus and team.

What situation puts you under the most pressure?

Lack of sufficient preparation for an upcoming deadline or event - both within and outside of my sport.

Has your collegiate career gone the way you thought it would or has it gone beyond what you expected?

I can't honestly say I expected it to go in any certain way. My experience working with the team, attending school, traveling and various accomplishments is unlike anything I could have ever expected or imagined.

What are some of the things that you wanted to accomplish before your college career is over?

I would love to be able to compete at the NCAA Championships with my team.

What are some of the biggest challenges that you've had to overcome?

The hardest challenge to overcome is burnout. Gymnastics is so physically and mentally demanding that it's hard to always be 100% motivated and satisfied. It's sometimes easy to fall into a rut and hard to get out of it.

What are some of the philosophies your coaches try to get through to the team or you as an individual?

Setting goals, outlining the best way to achieve those goals and knowing when to let up without giving up.

Personally, what has been your greatest accomplishment as a student-athlete and why?

I have several accomplishments that I am proud of. I can't really choose one that I would consider the "greatest".

As a kid what athlete or role model did you look up to and why?

My coach of ten years Alexei Koudria, because he was so driven in the sport. I would be lucky to have half the drive and dedication that he did.

How did you first get involved with your sport and why?

As a kid I was very energetic and my mother signed me up for gymnastics classes and I enjoyed it.

What is your favorite moment during a competition and why?

My favorite moment is coming back to my teammates for congratulations and high fives after I know I hit a solid set.

What are some of the difficulties in competing in your sport at a high level that the average fan may not be aware of?

It's non-stop training. The season is only a few months long, but you have to train year round to keep up, and it's tough getting back in shape after just a few days off.

What are the areas of your performance which you feel you have improved on the most recently?

I'm better at not letting a not-so-perfect performance get to me. I used to dwell on mistakes I made on previous events during a meet, causing me to lose focus on the rest of the competition.

How much do you rely on your teammates both during competition and in your life?

My teammates are always there for support and motivation. I am usually able to seek advice from a teammate if I have a problem.

What are some of your weaknesses as an athlete in your sport?

I sometimes let fear get the best of me.

What are some of your strengths?

I'd like to think I'm somewhat diligent in getting through my workouts.

What are your plans after graduation?

I'd like to attend graduate school, although I am not sure yet what I want to study.

What do you do to kick back and unwind after a tough competition?

I always enjoy having a nice big meal after a competition.