Kelley voted captain for talent, leadership skills

Anthony Maggio

Dedication, desire, personality, work ethic, performance. These qualities are ingredients for successful leadership – qualities possessed by Minnesota gymnast MaryAnne Kelley.

Kelley, a second-team All-America selection last year and the only member of the women’s team to qualify for the NCAA championships, is entering her final season on the Gophers gymnastics team. She was voted captain by her teammates, a title Kelley is proud to have.

“It was definitely an honor considering that it’s our teammates who vote for it,” Kelley said. “I was extremely happy being named captain. It shows how my teammates think of me and think of me as a leader. I can’t even explain it. It was definitely an honor.”

Performing well at every level of competition is something Kelley has always done. In high school, she was named the Chicago Tribune High School Athlete of the Year. Kelley earned many other accolades, including AAI Outstanding Senior Gymnast for Illinois while at Fremd High School in the suburbs of Chicago.

Despite the multiple honors Kelley brought in, she was ready to vault to new heights as a college gymnast.

“She came in with a great attitude, really easy to coach,” co-head coach Meg Stephenson said. “We were able to clean up some of the things that maybe she wasn’t as consistent on – teach her some new skills here and there, some upgrades.”

Competing in the all-around, Kelley must be in the top six on the team in every event. During her freshman year, Kelley was the only Minnesota athlete to compete in the all-around in every meet, a feat showing her desire to excel right away.

Kelley – named North Central Regional Gymnast of the Year last season – has continued to show her work ethic in the gym, earning the respect of teammates and coaches alike.

“The reason she stands out to (her teammates) is her work ethic in the gym,” Stephenson said. “She really puts in 100 percent every day. She’s also a great team player. She really supports everybody else.”

According to teammates and coaches, Kelley’s personality makes her easy to get along with. She is also a good mediator, as well as motivator for her squad.

“She’s a very likeable person,” assistant coach Doug Day said. “She cares about everybody on the team. She really looks after her other teammates, and cares about her teammates. I don’t think she has an enemy in the world.”

Kelley’s upbeat personality gives a mental boost to teammates, but her gymnastics prowess and competitiveness has helped them improve their routines.

“It’s been good for my gymnastics and everyone’s on the team,” senior Courtney Norman said. “It’s been good to have such good competition within the team. To have someone so good makes everyone else want to work harder to make it to where she’s at. She makes us all work harder to do better.”

Kelley’s main goal this season is to reach nationals, an accomplishment the team fell just short of last season. She also looks forward to just enjoying the atmosphere of being on the team.

“When I look back on my past years here it’s not what I scored in a certain meet,” Kelley said. “It’s just all the fun times we’ve had together as a team.”