Feb. 19, 2008
A Q&A with women's gymnast Melissa Klein, a freshman from Oceanside, N.Y.
What is your favorite thing about being a Penn State student?
I love the campus, the large class selection, and of course, the people! It is beautiful here and I love spending my time outside, hanging out on the Hub lawn and taking walks around Old Main. I'm a nerd, so I am excited to take as many different classes as I can. Also, coming from a place as diverse as New York, I was afraid it would be pretty homogeneous here. What I found out is that there's a lot of different kinds of people, and everyone is unique in their own way.
What is your favorite thing about being a Penn State student-athlete?
Competing and being a part of a team!
Why Penn State?
It is the perfect mixture of academics and athletics.
What is/has been your favorite class at Penn State and why?
Definitely English 30. I love English and writing, and it was a fun, discussion-oriented class that really made me think.
What is your favorite place on campus and why?
Webster's Bookstore Cafe and Old Main. I like the food and the environment at Websters and Old Main is just a pretty spot to hang out and enjoy the view.
When I am not at class or practice, I am ...
Taking a walk, reading, or hanging out with my friends.
What have you found to be the biggest differences between Junior Olympic and college competition?
Junior Olympic competition is individual-oriented, nerve-racking, and stressful. College competition is awesome! Everyone on the team depends on each other for support; we are feel confident and trust ourselves and each other, so it's not as nerve-racking as JOs.
Since coming to Penn State, what has been the biggest thing you have learned, in the gym?
Since coming to Penn State, what has been the biggest thing you have learned, out of the gym?
I learned that it is important to work through all physical issues and mental blocks, and that I am a lot stronger than I thought!
No one is going to run your life for you. You must make the decisions and act on them if you want to accomplish something.
What has been the hardest part of practice and why?
Training through pain and fatigue.
At what age did you begin participating in gymnastics, and why/how did you get into it?
When I was 3 my mom got tired of watching me cartwheel around the house and tumble off the couch. I quit after a few months and started again when I was 6.
To someone who doesn't know gymnastics and is seeing a meet for the first time, how would you describe your sport?
Ridiculous! It's pretty much the human body performing to its utmost potential, an ancient sport that is perpetually evolving and increasing in difficulty... so basically it is an experiment in human physical potential stretching back through time. I would also say it is the embodiment of mind over matter, and that they were about to get their mind blown!
How would you describe the personality of the team this year?
United and excited. Everyone's verve is contagious, and you can tell from watching us that we love what we're doing!
What is your favorite event and why?
Beam, because it requires complete focus and mind-body control. It's more of a test of will than a physical test, unlike the other events, and I love getting up there feeling I'm ready and confident. It's also the best feeling in the world when you hit!
Who is the craziest person on the team and why?
Probably Alex because she has a strong personality and is very outspoken. She's just a nutty fun-loving girl and we get along great- she's definitely one of my favorite people on the team.
Who would you consider the leaders on this team to be and why?
I look up to all of my teammates, however if I had to pick I'd have to say Aslynn and Rosie. Both of these girls work their butts off and give their all to the team. They have been a tremendous inspiration to me and they continue to motivate me every day.
What advice would you give to young gymnasts?
Develop a good work ethic and don't get down on yourself if you make a mistake. Gymnastics is a learning process and we all know it's not easy- it wouldn't be any fun if it was!
What is the best advice you have ever gotten, and from whom did you receive it?
Jess Bastardi, when she told me I was more capable than I thought I was. Jess has helped me enormously by teaching me to develop my mental strength and to believe in myself.
What is your favorite sport (other than gymnastics) to watch at Penn State and why?
Women's volleyball, because the team did awesome this year, and it's very exciting to watch.
If you could go anywhere in the world on a vacation, where would you go and why?
This is a hard question because there's so much to see and I really want to travel everywhere! I'd have to say I would go on an African Safari because I think it would be unlike anything I've ever experienced.
What are your hidden talents?
I play the flute and I love to write.
Finish this sentence: "We Are Penn State. We Are ... "
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