Gymnast brings perfectionist approach to U squad

Anthony Maggio

Inside the front doors of Midwest Gymnastics in Arden Hills, there are plaques on the wall marking achievements of gymnasts who train at the club. It isn’t completely clear what every plaque represents, but it is obvious they boast the best of the best athletes in the gym.

A closer look shows the name Alison Lim on multiple plaques, and it is immediately clear Ali is as good as they come in the world of gymnastics. Next season, the University hopes she will continue her success while donning maroon and gold.

“We’re really looking forward to getting to know her as a gymnast better and just polishing up a lot of what she can do,” co-head coach Meg Stephenson said.

Last weekend, Lim competed in the U.S. Classics in Los Angeles, an event reserved for gymnasts at the elite level. The meet was to qualify for the U.S. Championships next month, but Lim finished just two spots short.

Lim began gymnastics when she was four years old, under the tutelage of Jeff and Jess Graba, twin brothers who have developed her gymnastics skills from the ground up.

From the beginning, the Grabas noticed Lim was a hardworking athlete dedicated to excellence.

Lim describes herself as a perfectionist, which explains the countless hours she has spent in the gym.

“I hate losing,” Lim said. “That’s probably my biggest weakness and my greatest asset. I put a lot of hours in the gym because of that. But it also holds me back because I have a tendency to get really frustrated.”

Jess Graba acknowledged Lim’s perfectionist ways but does not see them as weaknesses. Rather, he believes Lim is the toughest athlete mentally he has ever coached, and her willingness to pay the price for success has separated Lim from other gymnasts throughout her career.

Instead, Lim’s weakness has been body flexibility, the trade-off for being an athlete with tremendous strength. Sustaining flexibility requires Lim to work harder at it than most.

Lim’s worship of the work ethic figures to bolster a Minnesota team that fell just short of making nationals last season. Lim chose the Gophers program over schools such as Penn State and Denver because of the atmosphere provided by the athletes and coaches.

“When I walked in it just felt good,” Lim said.

Lim performs quality routines on all events, but she excels on vault and bars.

“We’re really looking for her to help to replace Shannon (Lancaster) next year,” Stephenson said. “We definitely recruited her because we needed someone who would be good on vault. We also needed someone who would be good on bars to replace our other graduated senior, Megan Skokut. We think she’ll help us right away.”

Lim also believes she will strengthen the Gophers squad – setting goals of helping her team to nationals, qualifying for NCAAs as an individual, and winning a national title during her tenure at Minnesota.

Lim’s hard work may help land her name on a few more plaques, and the University’s on an even bigger one.

Anthony Maggio welcomes comments at [email protected]