As a redshirt freshman, Emma Slappey put together a solid season for the Tigers, earning a spot on the All-SEC and Freshman All-SEC teams. She was a consistent contributor all year on beam and floor and will enter her sophomore campaign one of the top returners for the Tigers.
Q: In what ways do you think your redshirt season helped you when performing last season?
A: “It really helped me gain perspective. It kind of lit a fire under me because it was really hard to sit back and watch my team do well and thrive without me knowing that I could help. I wouldn’t say it hurt, but I knew that I could help them do more. [During the redshirt season] I really did a lot. I did everything to get me where I needed to be make a lineup spot.”
Q: Though you are just a sophomore, you will be entering your third year as a student at Auburn. What leadership roles will you embrace this upcoming season?
A: “It’s just about guiding the newcomers and freshmen. We have been through a lot the past two seasons, especially me and my roommate, Emma Engler. They have been up and down. Leadership wise, I have been on both sides. So I know how both sides feel and I know what I can bring to the team to make us better.”
Q: How do you embrace your 2017 success in helping your teammates?
A: “In collegiate gymnastics, you want your team to be able to count on you to go hit a routine. I feel like I played that role pretty well last year. Everyone knew that when I was put into the lineup to hit, I was going to hit with the best of my ability. I think that’s the most important thing about college gymnastics. It’s not to think you’re better than everyone else, but to know your team needs to be able to count on you whenever they can.”
Q: Are there any new styles or routines that you are working on for the upcoming season?
A: “I just got a new floor routine. I am working on upgrading my first pass to an E pass – a full-in instead of a double pike to start off. Then on beam I am working on doing a layout full dismount.”
Q: What are your personal goals this season?
A: “I want to fill the role again of the team being able to count on me to hit. I want to be deeper in the lineup – more around the anchor spot. I just want to go up there and be consistent and hit every routine.”
Q: What are your team goals for this season?
A: “I know last year didn’t end the way we planned, so a lot of us are angry. We’re using that as fuel. A lot of us have been in the gym training this summer. The freshmen came in ready to go; we had a meeting with them. I think it really hit them that we want this and that we really want to go to nationals and make Super Six and all of that. We’re fired up and ready to go.”
Q: What is the biggest thrill competing in collegiate gymnastics?
A: “In club, you only have your parents and grandparents cheering you on and here you have 7,000 to 8,000 people looking at you and it’s not like everyone is going at once. It’s kind of intimidating but also it’s really great because when you land and hit your dismount everyone is cheering for you. That’s my favorite thing about college gymnastics, especially Auburn. It’s family-oriented. You’ll see people from class at your meets or your teachers and that’s really cool.”
Q: How much of a transition was it being home schooled then enrolling into a huge four-year university?
A: “I think home school actually helped me because I was very independent. It was a home school program, so I had teachers and I sent them my stuff and they graded it. It definitely helped me manage my time well. I completed all of my assignments on my own. That’s basically how college is. A lot of the classes are online here too, so it’s basically like home schooling. Not going to high school helped me, because I got myself up. I got all my assignments done. My mom rarely checked on me to see if I was doing all that. The transition was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be.”
Q: Have you always been only a gymnast or did you compete in other sports?
A: “When I was younger I played tennis a little bit. My brother, my mom and my dad all played tennis. I did that until I was either 7 or 8 years old, but I kept getting mad because I would hit it out of the line, so my mom said why don’t you try something with a little bit more power.”
Q: What are your hobbies outside of gymnastics?
A: “I like to shop a lot. I like to watch Netflix. I like to go to the beach. I like to play video games, especially Call of Duty. My brother taught me to play that. Right now, I’m watching The Following. I just finished Grey’s Anatomy. I like the CSI and Criminal Minds shows and stuff like that. ”
Q: What are you studying and what would you like to do with your degree after Auburn?
A: “I am studying fitness, conditioning and performance. It’s kind of like a small section of kinesiology. I kind of want to go into group or personal training or conditioning for college athletics. Next semester, I am going to volunteer in research labs for the kinesiology school. I will get to work with the professors and find an area of that I’m interested in and I can grow out of. I want to do what our strength and conditioning coach does for us and work for either college or pro athletics. I know one of the areas that the kinesiology school does is working with pitchers in softball players and helping analyze their pitchers and their form. That’s kind of on the lines of what I want to do.”
Q: What were some reasons you chose Auburn among others?
A: “I liked that it was smaller than other schools. My family went to Georgia and when I went to the campus I didn’t really like it because it was really big. I like Auburn because it’s smaller and more family-oriented. You can go anywhere and someone will say ‘Hey! War Eagle!’ It’s really welcoming, especially if you are new here.”
Q: How much of a culture shock was it moving from Jacksonville, Florida, to Auburn, Alabama?
A: “I miss the beach a lot. I feel that Jacksonville, even though it’s a big city, land wise, it’s very small because everyone knows each other there. It’s kind of the same.”
Q: How did you spend your vacation?
A: “I went on a cruise that left from Barcelona. We went to Ibiza, three places in France, Rome and Florence. My favorite place I went was Portofino (Italy) because it was smaller. When we went to Florence and Rome, it was like the Italian’s national holiday, so there were so many people and we couldn’t really see anything. But I liked Portofino because it was quiet and small and there were a bunch of little shops and a bunch of food. That’s the environment I like more. ”