Feb. 1, 2013
By Matthew Pearce
UGA Sports Communications
Standing alone in the dimly lit Suzanne Yoculan Gymnastics Center, Christa Tanella took in the atmosphere that has been the focus of her life for 17 years. The unique smell of chalk combining with the sweat and dedication of every gymnast to set foot in the Gym Dogs training facility reminded her what she will be losing at the end of the 2013 season. As she stood in the dark, alone with the chalk and beam, the realization that her career as a gymnast was slowly ticking away hit her.
“You look back and think wow, where did the time go? I think senior year is really different because all of a sudden, a time clock gets put on your back,” Tanella said. “Every meet you’re running out you have one less meet, every time you come to the gym you have one less time so it actually puts a whole new perspective on it. It makes everything seem more enjoyable for some reason.”
Last May, Tanella and her teammates went through a transition period with the arrival of new head coach Danna Durante, so the Gym Dogs have spent the last few months becoming familiar with their new coaches.
“When Danna first came in I think all of our walls were pretty much up, I think a lot of our team thought ‘this is our team and don’t come in and change anything, we know how we like it.’ Danna came in and took that challenge and said those walls are coming down. She has established so much respect from the whole team and I wouldn’t say that unless it was completely true.”
The change in coaching staff was one of the biggest challenges that Tanella has faced throughout her four years at Georgia. For the Lucas, Texas native, her time at college has been a time of growth and opportunity. One that she feels she has embraced and, because of this, has had the best possible influence on her as an individual.
“I think that if anyone comes into college and doesn’t go through a transition of growth it’s such a sad thing. College presents so many obstacles and so many life lessons that if you don’t grow that’s such a sad testimony,” Tanella said. “The biggest thing I found in college actually, and again I sound cliché, but it is my identity. God brought me through so much, and I think He took me when I came in as a freshman and developed my identity so I am now more grounded in my faith than ever, and that’s a huge testimony to me.”
Her faith plays a significant role in Tanella’s everyday life; she signs 2nd Corinthians 12:6-11 under her name on every piece of Gym Dog memorabilia that she autographs. This strong belief has helped her set her goals for her senior season.
“Between now and the end of the season I want to become a different competitor in my mindset than I was the years before. That is the hardest because sport is 99 percent mental and if you’re trying to improve mentally, it seems like you have a lot more distance to go,” she said. “This year my goal reflects a lot in the verse which I sign under my name and it’s basically that I want to be able to glorify God through my weaknesses.”