- For most college students, dreams come true after graduation and a degree. For West Virginia University senior gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer
, dreams come true then, but also this weekend.
The Cornwall, N.Y., native individually qualified for the 2014 NCAA National Championships, and the qualification was earned as a result of nothing but dedication and hard work.
“I’m just so excited,” said Sloanhoffer. “I’ve always had the dream of going to nationals, and I’m really excited to be able to do that this weekend.”
Content with the way that her senior year is ending, the No. 28-ranked all-around gymnast is not only a team leader in athletics, but also is the only senior who will graduate in four years while also competing in every meet. An exercise physiology major, she is a member of the WVU Dean’s List.
The first WVU individual qualifier in six years, and also the first under head coach Jason Butts, the Big 12 Conference all-around champion and two-time 20014 Big 12 Gymnast of the Week contributes parts of her success to her teammates. She has been training alongside them during her preparation for this weekend’s competition, and she has received nothing but support and praise from the team.
“The team members have been incredible,” described Sloanhoffer. “They’ve all been so excited for me and have been constantly congratulating me.”
Coach Butts also credited the standout senior, recognizing that she fulfilled his desire for his gymnasts to perform their best during their senior year. Her improvement from last season was nothing short of championship-worthy.
“Hope qualifying is a great way to cap off the season,” said Butts. “Her consistency and improvement during this season have been outstanding, and she’s done everything I’ve asked her to do.”
Although her support system is strong, Sloanhoffer competes individually this weekend for the second time this season. Her first individual competition of the year ended with a tie for first on beam with a 9.85 score and second in the all-around with a 39.175 score at the 2014 NCAA Athens Regional Championships on April 5.
Sloanhoffer hopes to fulfill another dream, and return to Morgantown as an All-American. She says now that team competition has ended for her, she can concentrate on the last meet of her career and put everything she has into it.
Paired with No. 15-ranked Penn State for competition in Friday’s semifinal session, Butts says Sloanhoffer can pull energy from the Nittany Lions.
“They’ll have a ton of excitement,” Butts said. “They haven’t qualified for a while, so the intensity will be amped up and it will be a lot of fun. I think it will benefit Hope a lot.”
Sloanhoffer, the team’s top gymnast with 35 podium finishes this season, has come to terms with the fact that she will compete for the last time this weekend.
“I haven’t really thought about this being the end until we were at regionals,” Sloanhoffer said. “I had been focusing on the team rather than this being my last year, and I would have loved to see us qualify. Now, I’m really excited at how this year is ending for me, personally.”
The All-American-hopeful will compete one final time as a Mountaineer at the NCAA National Championships, April 18-20, at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex, in Birmingham, Ala.