Jan. 25, 2013
By Matthew Pearce
Running out under the Stegeman Coliseum lights in her final season opener against Oklahoma on Jan. 5, Kati Breazeal took a moment to look around and take in the scene. Everything from the fans and fireworks to the PA announcer. For the first time it hit her that this was the beginning of the end.
“It feels really strange and it’s starting to sink in now. When Christa (Tanella), Shayla (Worley), Noel (Couch) and I were introduced as the seniors and we ran out last it was just this surreal feeling that we have finally reached this point, that gymnastics is coming to an end soon,” she said. “It’s just really weird that we’re growing up and we’re the leaders on the team. I didn’t think I’d ever reach this point honestly.”
Of the four seniors, Breazeal has had to be the most patient. After performing exhibition routines her freshman and sophomore seasons she began her competitive collegiate career on Feb. 18, 2012, at home against Kentucky. Competing in the vault and beam that day, Breazeal would score 9.750 and 9.775 respectively on the two events. She also competed on vault and beam later in the season at Michigan, posting career best scores of 9.800 on vault and 9.825 on beam.
Breazeal performed exhibition routines in Georgia’s first two meets of the season, and she knows close she is to completing her gymnastics journey at Georgia.
That journey included a change prior to her senior season with the hiring of a new coaching staff, and over the last several months Breazeal’s relationships with her new coaches have flourished.
“It was definitely a transition period at first, but over these past few months and the fall training we’ve definitely developed just a great personal relationship outside of the gym with all these coaches,” Breazeal said. “Our personalities mesh, we have the same sense of humor so we get along really well and they’re just all calm and cool in the gym so it really makes for a great environment.“
While the arrival of head coach Danna Durante changed the atmosphere and environment it didn’t alter the relationships that Breazeal had already built with her teammates. This included a very close bond with her senior classmates.
“I think we’ve always been a very close class, everybody gets along, we all love each other. Especially Christa and I, we’ve been best friends since we were little back in Texas. Through college our relationship has just gotten stronger,” Breazeal said. “Shayla and Noel are just awesome too, they’re going to be parts of my life after gymnastics and after everybody moves away from Athens. We’ve just got such a great class and I love them.”
It isn’t only her fellow seniors that Breazeal has a close relationship with, as one of her personal goals for the season is to make her relationships with her teammates lasting ones that go well beyond the gymnasium. As a whole, this team is a special one to the Allen, Texas, native.
“This team compares just unbelievably to teams in the past that I’ve seen. We’ve got great chemistry, we’ve got amazing performers and our gymnastics is stellar,” Breazeal said. “I feel like we’ve got all the components that make up a national championship team. I’m really excited for the future.”
Throughout her four years as a Gym Dog, Breazeal has seen a lot of change with each year bringing new girls to the team. She feels, however, that the 2013 seniors have already left their mark on the program.
“So much has changed because every year a new class comes in, a new group of girls comes in and they bring their own dynamic and their personality that they contribute to this program and to the team.,” Breazeal said. “I think my class especially has made a huge impact on this program and brought a lot of new things to it.”