From top left clockwise: Jacey Draper,Nicolle Ford, Rachel Tidd, Stephanie Lim
Nov. 14, 2002
SALT LAKE CITY -
University of Utah gymnastics coach Greg Marsden has already wrapped up his recruiting for the 2004 season after receiving signed letters of intent from four national caliber gymnasts. Included in the star-studded recruiting class are former Junior Olympic, Junior and Senior National Team Members.
"All four of these athletes are exceptionally talented and were highly recruited by every top program," says Marsden. "Each of them possess qualities that will help us continue Utah's tradition of excellence, both competitively and academically."
Jacey Draper, previously of Salt Lake City but now a resident of Lake Oswego, Ore., is a former U.S. National Team member and three-year international elite. She placed second on vault and ninth in the all-around at the 2002 Junior Olympic Championships. Also a member of the 1997 and '98 J.O. National Team, Draper was the 1997 J.O. national floor exercise champion. While living in Salt Lake, Draper trained under Mary Wright at Olympus Gymnastics. She now trains at the Multnomah Athletic Club for coaches Meg Doxtator, Ivan Alexov, Jill Hicks and Sheila Lanner. She attends Lake Oswego High School and is the daughter of Lee and Tami Draper.
"Jacey is a very talented athlete with experience at the highest levels of gymnastics competition," touts Marsden. "Since she lived in Salt Lake City until last fall, we had a chance to closely follow her development. We always hoped that one day she would choose to join our team. Jacey's intelligence, skill and upbeat personality will help make us a better team from the day she arrives on campus."
Nicolle Ford of Binghamton, N.Y., is a four-year international elite competitor who placed 20th in the all-around at the 2001 U.S. Gymnastics Championships. She finished fourth in the all-around at the 2002 SCEGA Invitational. Ford currently trains under coaches Daile VanPatten and Natalia Laschenova at Southern Tier Gymnastics. She attends Windsor Central High School and is the daughter of Charles and Lori Ford.
"Nicolle has a beautiful gymnastics style, has great skills on every event and executes them in typical Utah fashion-flawlessly," says Marsden. "She is someone who would improve any team and our coaching staff can't wait for an opportunity to work with her. Nicolle will help us continue as one of the nation's most competitive collegiate programs and should quickly establish herself as a contender for NCAA all-around honors."
Junior Olympian Stephanie Lim of The Woodlands, Texas, placed seventh all-around at the 2002 J.O. Championships. She was the 2002 J.O. Region 3 all-around champion and a two-time Texas J.O. all-around champion (2001-02). Lim trains at Texas Star Gymnastics for coaches Debbie Kaitschuck, Deana Parish and Julian Gomez. She attends The Woodlands High School and is the daughter of Frank and Barbara Lim.
Says Marsden, "Stephanie was one of the most hotly recruited gymnasts in the country this year. While her credentials are already impressive, this is an athlete who has just begun to reach her potential. She has shown tremendous improvement over the past two seasons and is quickly evolving into one of our country's top gymnasts. Stephanie is what every college coach looks for: a talented athlete who is still enthusiastic about her sport and has the ability to improve throughout her collegiate career."
Four-year U.S. National Team member Rachel Tidd of San Marcos, Calif., will defer attending the University of Utah until the 2005 season in order to train for the 2004 Olympics. She plans to enter school in the fall of 2004. Tidd placed fourth in the all-around at the 2001 USA Championships and was 10th all-around at the 2000 Olympic Trials. A member of the 2001 USA World Championships team, Tidd placed eighth on the balance beam at the World Championships. She is coached by former Ute All-American Meredith King-Paulicivic, along with Tim Garrison and Kathy Strate, at Southern California Elite Gymnastics Academy (SCEGA). The daughter of Michael and Susan Tidd graduated from Calvary Christian School in June 2002.
"Rachel is definitely worth waiting for, so although we would love to have her join our team next season, we will look forward to her arrival in the fall of 2004. Until then, we will support her efforts to make the U.S.A. Olympic Team," says Marsden. "Rachel has already demonstrated that she is one of the most talented gymnasts in the world. She is a performer who will love to compete in front of our 10,000 fans and, believe me, all 10,000 will fall in love with her. Her international experience and leadership, when added to an already talented group, will keep the future of Utah gymnastics bright."