Stott Leads Air Force Into MPSF Championships
March 21, 2002
By Kurt Eilmes
Bethany Stottwas a self-described hyperactive little kid, always bouncing around on the furniture like a human pogo-stick.
So, to find an outlet for Stott's energy, not to mention save a little wear and tear on their home furnishings, her parents enrolled the 2-year-old into a gymnastics class.
Nearly twenty years later, Stott has focused that abundance of energy into a record-setting gymnastics career at the Air Force Academy. Earlier this season, she was ranked first in the nation on the balance beam (she is currently 14th) and has been selected the conference women's gymnast of the week.
This Saturday night, Stott will lead her teammates into the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference championships at the Academy with high expectations.
"I think we have a definite chance of winning the conference," she said. "If we are consistent and hit our routine I do believe we should win. Of course, you never really know until you are there."
Her coach, Lisa Woody, also likes the Falcons' chances but is a little skeptical of some unknown variables.
All of the judges for the meet are based in California and have different scoring tendencies, she said.
"In addition to not knowing how the California judges score, we have a random draw for the rotation," Woody said. "And as the host, we have the worst possible rotation. San Jose State, which is our main competition, has the best possible rotation."
She hopes a supportive home audience will help her team overcome the poor rotation. It is the first time the women's team will participate in the MPSF championships. Last year the Falcons, as an independent program, won the United States of America Gymnastics national title. USAG recognizes Division II and III schools in addition to Division I schools with less than six scholarship recipients.
Stott grew up in New Hampshire and participated in gymnastics on the club level until high school, when she "ended up getting burnt out."
Before she became a piece of toast, Stott stopped competing with her club team and turned her attention to several other areas like cross country and drama. However, she didn't sever all ties to the sport - she turned out for her high school team.
"In competitive gymnastics you don't have time to have a normal high school life," she explained.
There was a drawback for quitting club - it is in that arena where most of the college recruiting takes place. But that didn't stop Stott, who went to work like a salesperson, selling herself to gymnastics programs - including the one who made the buy - Air Force.
Now, more than ever, the coaches are glad this is one purchase they made. In the West Gymnasium, location of the conference championships, Stott's name is littered all over the walls. She currently holds the Academy records for balance beam and floor exercise and a multiple academic all-American. On the beam, her score was a 9.975, which means only one judge thought she was less than perfect.
Her near perfect scores aren't what impress her coach the most. "She does not fall off the balance beam...ever," Woody said. "In the three years I've known her, she's probably fallen off three times total. She is an extremely talented, naturally talented athlete who has so many different skills in her beam routine, I usually have to take some out."
Stott's signature move on the beam is her "flight series" for her dismount. She does three consecutive flips on the beam and then flips again onto the floor. Naturally, Stott is pleased with how her abilities have improved despite competing at a lower level of competition during her high school years. She is even more impressed with the talent of her team, though, which she hopes equals in post-season success.
"We've already broken the record for team score with a 195.075, which is by far the best in Academy history," she said. "I think it would be a big thing for our team if we win. We just need to treat it as another meet because our team has what it takes to win."
If Air Force does win, don't be surprised if Stott bounces on some furniture for old time's sake.