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July 14, 2008 - Image 14

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2008-07-14

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14 S

Monday, July 14, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

ELISE RAY gymnastics: The vault, which is
usually set at 49 inches, was incor-
From Page 13 rectly set at 47 inches.
The vault was Ray's first event,
'Holy cow, here I am. This is it.'And I and because of the incorrect height,
remember thatfeeling very clearly." she fell. At the time, no one knew of
After settling in, Ray thrived in the problem, and both Ray and her
Sydney. She was the lone U.S. gym- coach were baffled at her fall. After
nast to qualify for the final of an the third event, she learned of the
individual event, mistake and was
the beam. But even given the option to
the competition redo her vault. She
wasn't all that Ray "W hen I think took the chance
had hoped for, as about it now even and hit both of her
her entire team was i routines. But in the
done and spend- it's shocking that end, Ray believes
ing time with their that had the vault
families while Ray it could happen." been set correctly,
was forced to train her mental attitude
by herself. After a and adrenaline
month of training would have stayed
before the games, she was tired and high, and she would have scored
ready to take a break. better overall.
"of course I was happy and I "This never ever happens," Ray
was proud of myself for qualifying said. "And here I was at the most
on those events," Ray said. "I really important competition of my life,
tried to focus in and enjoy the expe- and it's happening. When I think
rience. I wish I could say itwas won- about it now even, it's shocking that
derful, but it was difficult." it could happen."
The individual event finals fea- The team finished third overall
tured a very rare occurrence in and Ray finished 13th in the all-

around and eighth in the beam final
to finish up her career - for the time
After the Olympics, Ray didn't
know if she wanted to continue to
compete. Luckily for Michigan and
Ray, she chose to carry on with her
gymnastics career.
"One reason I chose Michigan
was because as soon as I walked on
campus I was in love," Ray said. "I
loved the little city that it is. I just
loved going to coffee shops and
reading and writing. And I just
lovedbeing on campus."
In Jan. 2001, Ray joined the Wol-
verines and her impact was immedi-
ately felt in the gym.
She shared the 2001 NCAA All-
Around title and was named a first-
team All-American.
During her time as a Wolverine,
Ray became one of the most deco-
rated Michigan gymnasts ever.
She was named an All-American
three more times and won the
NCAA National Championships
in the balance beam (2002) and
uneven bars (2004). And in 2004
and 2005, Ray was named the
NCAA Northeast Region Gym-
nast of the Year.
Outside of her statistical
accomplishments, it was the team
philosophy that Ray remembers
At Michiganshe was engrossed
in a team-oriented situation,
something she never got in club
"I'm so thankful that it all
worked out and I was able to use
my gymnastics for the Univer-
sity," Ray said. "I wish I could go
back and start over again."
Ray's most memorable part
of competing at Michigan had
nothing to do with scores or indi-
vidual awards.
"We loved each other, and we

Former Michigan gymnast Elise Ray wants to become a writer of children
after she is unable to continue performing with Cirque du Soleil.

supported each other," Ray said.
"The girls at Michigan were like
my sisters, I mean it was always all
Since Ray enjoyed a more diverse
lifestyle in Ann Arbor, she could put
time into academics and enjoy her
life outside gymnastics.
"It was like a relationship," Ray
said. "We gave them everything we
had academically and athletically,
and they provided us with this edu-
cation of this renowned university."
Ray graduated with an English

degree and plans to use it once she is
done with her work in Vegas.
Ray loves her time in Las Vegas
and realizes it's her last stop before
switching career paths. In the
future, she wants to get into writ-
ing and may even start with chil-
dren books. Her time at Michigan
allowed Ray to strengthen her love
for writing as well as enjoy four
more years of gymnastics.
"Before college I didn't know if
I really wanted to continue in
gymnastics because I was a little
bit burnt out," Ray said. "But it
was the best decision of my life.
It relit my love for the sport, and
I became passionate again about


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