Feb. 10, 2011
After Katie O’Rourke’s season-best showing on vault last weekend, Pitt coach Debbie Yohman heard some of her gymnasts talking about how impressed they were with her performance.
“They were saying, ‘Wow, she’s really good,’” said Yohman. “And I said back, ‘This is exactly why we brought her in. We know how good Katie is and how good she can be for us.’ Her teammates are now seeing what we knew all along.”
O’Rourke’s score of 9.775 on vault Sunday afternoon marked her best performance of the season so far, but the Pitt freshman is certainly not planning on it being her best for long. While a shoulder injury slowed O’Rourke through much of the fall, she is finally feeling healthy and ready to perform at a standout level.
“I’m feeling really good about everything right now,” said O’Rourke. “I missed a lot of preseason because of the shoulder injury, but the coaches and I worked on a lot and I’ve got the confidence now in my shoulder and my routines.”
O’Rourke is focusing on vault, beam and floor for Pitt this season, as performing on bars became more difficult with her shoulder injury. Honing in on those three events means O’Rourke can pay more attention to each routine’s details and try to improve upon her scores as much as possible. It has worked so far, resulting in strong showings in all three events last week.
“I’ve done well, but there are a lot of little things that I can still fix,” O’Rourke said. “After last weekend, I know I can get these high scores and do really well. I’ve been practicing better and I just feel more willing and excited to try new things and go for harder skills. When a meet like that is over, I just get really excited to come back and practice. I always want to improve things that I didn’t do as well, and I’ve been able to do that.”
That is the exact attitude the Pitt coaching staff was hoping for when they recruited O’Rourke from her hometown of Springfield, Va. With the pressure to perform right away at the collegiate level, Yohman said each gymnast is trained and handled in a different way. And while O’Rourke’s shoulder injury brought upon some difficulty for her before the season started, the coaches now have a good handle on how to tailor practices and performances each week.
“You develop each gymnast in a different way, but we’ve always known that Katie is a great performer and a great competitor,” Yohman said. “Being that Katie is a freshman, it took a little while for us to get a complete handle on her, what she needed to do and what we needed to do with her. But everything just recently clicked for her. Her confidence, timing and skills all came back almost overnight. She now has three very strong events and has some skills that are very unique.
“Katie is a top-notch performer. She didn’t show us a big improvement this weekend – she showed us exactly what we knew she could do and what we recruited her for. Her former coach expects her to come in here and win the EAGL. That’s the type of skill she has.”
Pitt faces Maryland on Saturday at the Fitzgerald Field House. Pitt’s seniors will be honored prior to the meet, which is set to begin at 7 p.m.