Women’s History Month: Rutgers Gymnasts Danielle D’Elia and Alexis Gunzelman Talk Importance of Team First
Added by Justin O'Connell on March 5, 2013.
Everyday this month, Double G Sports will be featuring interviews from prominent women in the sports industry as our way of celebrating Women’s History Month. This project is in its 2nd year. Today we feature two members of the Rutgers University Gymnastics Team, Danielle D’Elia and Alexis Gunzelman….
Senior, Danielle D’Elia, is one of Rutgers best All-Around gymnasts. (Photo courtesy of Rutgers Athletics Communications)
Gymnastics is a sport that a select few can master. Between the hours spent in the gym, the constant repetition of moves, and the mental pressure, one may argue that it is one of the most demanding sports out there. No one knows this better than Danielle D’Elia and Alexis Gunzelman, who are on the Rutgers Gymnastic team.
D’Elia, a senior, and Alexis, a junior, are two of the best on their team and have made gymnastics part of who they are. This sport requires dedication, and sacrifice, so while other college students are off partying, these two young ladies are prepping for their next meet.
“A social life, what is that (laughing)? You know it’s tough. When you’re a freshman and you come in you really don’t know, you really have no idea what’s going on and you’re just kind of doing it and going along. But you figure it out and you realize that there are things you have to prioritize over other things. Sometimes you are going to have to make sacrifices and not be able to do certain things because you do have responsibilities, but you do a sport that you love and in the end that’s all worth it,” D’Elia said.
Whether it is vault, bars, beam, or floor, these two can do it all and at a high level. Both are part of the teams’ 9.9 club and had key roles in their wins over schools like Yale, Pittsburgh, Brown, Alaska, and Southern Connecticut. D’Elia has also had the honors of receiving the award of 1st team All-Floor and she made it to NCAA Regionals for Floor, something she said was one of your greatest accomplishments. Gunzelman, a co-caption and two-time team MVP, has been perfecting her craft since she was three years old. She has not only performed in the gym, but also in the classroom and because of it she was awarded All-League Academics.
When giving one’s life to a sport there has to be a strong passion in order to conquer both the sport and other parts of one’s life. Gunzelman talked about her passion for the sport and the feeling she gets when she’s out on the floor.
“I love the adrenaline rush I get. Sometimes it’s a little bit too much, but I love the feeling of all that nervousness, when you push it out of your system and having that feeling of being on top,” Gunzleman said.
To thrive in gymnastics these gymnasts have to be individually strong, but make no mistake they treat this as a team sport. Both pointed out that when you’re out there it is all about your individual performance, so they try their hardest to get the highest score they can. Having said this, they also made it clear that in the end it’s all about getting the win for the team, that is what is most important.
Alexis Gunzelman is a co-captain for Rutgers Gymnastics Team (Photo courtesy of Rutgers Athletics Communications)
The Rutgers Gymnastics team is a “family” according to Gunzleman and they are very close, which makes the team’s overall success the main purpose. When they were younger, both agreed that gymnastics was more of an “individual” sport, but once they reach college they learned that it was more of a team sport, this was a challenge, but something they both quickly overcame.
“Our team is actually very close and everyone gets along really well. It’s definitely team. I mean individually when you compete, you’re the only one out there, but in the end its about the team and what you could can do for them. We all have a bond and we don’t want to let each other down,” D’Elia said explaining why gymnastics is a team sport.
Not only are D’Elia and Gunzleman team players, but they are role models to young girls, who hope to one day reach the platform that these two have.
“I have people who say they look up to me, and I know when I go to my home gym all the little girls are like ‘I wanna be like you’. I tell them to keep working and one day they can be in my position,”D’Elia said.
Gunzleman talked about how she had to grow into the role of a role model, by explaining that there are days in the gym where she “struggles” with her attitude. However she feels that once she began her career at Rutgers she began improving it everyday and now views herself as someone who young gymnast can look up to.
Gymnastics have been all that these two have known since they were three years old, but now as they are approaching the end of their college careers both agree that they will have to move on. Gunzleman is possibly thinking about attending PA (Physical Assistant) school and D’Elia is still contemplating what she would like to do, but is leaning towards Public Relations.
The two know they will not be able to make a living with gymnastics, but as D’Elia said, “I’m sure it will find a way back into my life.”