As they walked onto the floor at the Royal Brougham Pavilion for the final time, flowers in hand, and their parents by their side, the seniors of the Seattle Pacific gymnastics team likely had many thoughts going through their mind, but probably not “I didn’t want to go to SPU.” But that’s what senior Kai Tindall was thinking in high school when it came to choosing a college.
“I had grown up there,” Kai Tindall said. “I wanted to go somewhere else because I had been there so long.”
The reason? Her mother, Laurel Tindall, has been the coach since Kai was just a kid. What caused the sudden change of mind for the coach’s daughter?
“I realized, ‘Hold on,’” Kai said. “I love Seattle, and this is a great school and has a great [gymnastics] program.”
Watching Kai during every meet is something that her mom loves, however, it is not always the easiest thing — sometimes those motherly instincts come out and get the best of her.
“She makes me more nervous than anyone else I’ve ever watched,” Laurel said. “And I’ve watched her for how many years? I think the most important thing is that we have three coaches and my responsibility is on bars, [which] she doesn’t do.”
Five other seniors were recognized on Friday at the Royal Brougham Pavilion — Stephanie Cross, Lisa Goodhew, Bryn Larson, Kenley Memmel and Ali Tso. These six seniors have always wanted to leave a legacy on the gymnastics program — they did so on Friday, as the squad broke SPU’s all-time point record at 193.975, .075 higher than the previous record, narrowly missing a win against UC Davis.
It’s a big achievement for a team that has such a rich history of success, something that the head coach realizes.
“I think it’s a legacy that they step into,” Laurel said. “It’s a lot of hard work for the staff and the kids.”
The team broke the score record after an impressive performance at their first event — the vault.
“We started off on vault really strong,” Tso said. “[We got some high scores], and that just boosted our confidence, starting on that high note.”
That momentum carried over into the next events. The team scored at least a 48 in each event, including an impressive 48.825 on the floor, an event that the Falcons have been continually dominating. However, most of the team didn’t even realize they had broken the score until the very end of the meet. It came as a surprise to them — especially because they had to count two falls during the meet — something that significantly decreased the overall score.
“For me, I wasn’t paying attention to the scores,” Kai said. “I was happily shocked. I was a little bit surprised at the team score, especially since we counted two falls.”
The team couldn’t have broken the score without a significant amount of help from the seniors, who pride themselves on being an especially diverse group of gymnasts — each bringing something else to the team.
“We are a really diverse group of people that has really helped the team,” Goodhew said. “We can relate to everyone in a different way to balance each other out.”
With the final home meet behind them, they turn their attention to the next stretch of road meets they have ahead of them. Their next opponent? The same team they faced last week — UC Davis. The team must get this emotional meet out of the way, refocus and get ready take on same opponent again.
“I don’t think it will be hard [to refocus],” Tso said. “We still have room to improve and our energy is high.”
The team knows that there will be no more home meets en route the postseason, but that doesn’t necessarily make the team sad, it makes them excited to continue forward.
“I think we are on a positive, exciting journey,” Memmel said. “It’s the beginning of the end, and [we are] enjoying each moment.”