Balboa back in full force

Ana Balboa didnâÄôt expect everything to come her way last season as a freshman on the womenâÄôs gymnastics team . Really, Balboa, a Monterrey, Mexico native , didnâÄôt know what to expect as she was thrown into a new American culture. That was until she started gymnastics, the reason she came to Minnesota in the first place. There she was welcomed by teammates that are now always by her side. âÄúOur team is really diverse so we really like to learn about each otherâÄôs culture,âÄù Balboa said. âÄúTheyâÄôve been there for everything I need.âÄù Still, the transition wasnâÄôt easy. Aside from the new culture, coaches Meg and Jim Stephenson watched Balboa, who competed on beam and vault her freshman season , adjust to a new type of gymnastics: team gymnastics. Before coming to Minnesota, she competed individually at some of the top meets around the world. âÄúI donâÄôt think that Ana, when she got here, realized how much was involved and what the expectations were,âÄù Meg Stephenson said. But the StephensonâÄôs have been blown away by BalboaâÄôs work ethic and desire for success in all areas of life. But after almost a full season of development, Balboa suffered the biggest setback of her career. Near the end of last season, a time when it mattered most, Balboa suffered an ankle injury on the floor routine . This put her out of the lineup and effectively ended her season. Balboa, a competitor at heart and, according to Meg Stephenson, a role model through her determination and drive, was unusually, yet understandably, brought down by the injury. âÄúIt was really sad because I really wanted to compete,âÄù Balboa said. Somewhere, though, she found the right mindset. âÄúI just decided to work harder for next season.âÄù And work she did. Balboa spent the majority of the summer at the University recovering, training and preparing for her chance to re-enter the lineup and do what she loves most. It was a comeback in every sense of the word. âÄúShe worked so hard over the summer to make sure that when she arrived she was going to be strong, and healthy, and prepared to get in that lineup first thing,âÄù Meg Stephenson said. The work, according to Meg Stephenson, paid off. âÄúShe wanted to already be there by the time she arrived so she can just move forward and she definitely did that,âÄù she said. Balboa has not just arrived for her sophomore season; she has performed. She excels on beam , leading the event this season and achieving a personal best score of 9.825 at Denver . Ironically, her favorite event is the one that brought her down last year , a testament to her strength this year. âÄúIâÄôve always loved floor,âÄù Balboa said. âÄúIâÄôm not nervous at all. ItâÄôs what I wanted all last year.âÄù