Oct. 17, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan State gymnastics coaches have named Taira Neal as captain for the 2012-13 season. Neal, a senior on the team, has been a Spartan gymnast since stepping onto campus as a freshman.
For the past six years, the seniors have led the team and no captain has been named, Neal will have a role to form for future Spartan gymnast captains. The seniors last year focused on the importance of communication, something Neal hopes to continue.
“We decided that we needed a strong leader within the team and chose Taira Neal to be our captain this season,” said head coach Kathie Klages. “She has taken the responsibility seriously and has done a superb job leading in the right direction. We look forward to an outstanding year with Taira’s leadership.”
Neal describes her leadership style as positive, relaxed, and easy to approach. As a captain, Neal hopes to work on her over-thinking and sometimes getting overwhelmed.
“I don’t think it will change my role on the team,” said Neal. “I still know what I need to do out there when we compete, now I’m just making sure that everyone follows. I hope to remind the team to stay in the right direction, positive, and on the same page.”
Neal started gymnastics at the age of two and feels that the sport teaches a lot of life lessons and challenges her daily. Former Michigan State gymnast Rochelle Robinson is Neal’s role model as she begins her new role and her final season. The newly named captain studies criminal justice and sociology, and plans to go to law school or work in a part of the juvenile justice system upon graduation. During graduate or law school she hopes to keep active with gymnastics through coaching.
The gymnastics team will begin scrimmages Dec. 2 and regular-season matches on Jan. 12.