Iowa gymnastics head Reive believes his team’s future is on the podium


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Entering his third season as the head coach of the Iowa men’s gymnastics team, JD Reive feels as if the culture he once dreamed of implementing is finally taking hold. The “journey,” as Reive and the team refer to it, will be a grinding, yet gratifying experience.

“For us, it’s all about the process,” Reive said. “When they’re tired, when they’re sore, when they don’t think they can do it, they are going to mature to the point where they become phenomenal competitors.”

This year’s Hawkeye squad is full of depth and experience. Thirteen letter winners from the 2012 squad will perform for the Hawkeyes again this season. That depth, which Reive spoke of, has encouraged the Hawks to push each other. Javier Balboa, a senior all-around performer from Mexico, propelled his Gold squad to a victory in the annual Black and Gold Intrasquad meet this past Sunday. He knows, probably more than anyone else on the team, how important the inner competition is to Reive and his coaching staff.

“Coach Reive has said it to us. Every meet we have is practice, including the intrasquad,” Balboa said. “In every practice and every meet, we’re practicing to get in that mental state for the Big Ten championships and the NCAAs. The way we push each other is definitely something he’s implemented.”

Before his time as a gymnast for Reive, Balboa had never followed a concrete program when he trained. His first year as a Hawkeye, he admits, was a little complicated, because of Reive’s strong assertions about the training regimen to which he wanted Balboa to follow. Now, the senior sees how the long-term mindset of his coach has benefited himself and his teammates.

“He’s developing the plan for [the team] next year and even longer than that,” Balboa said. “Now that I’m in my third year [competing for Iowa], I see how everything has carried on. The difference between Coach Reive and previous coaches that I’ve had is the thought process that he puts into this.”

The Hawkeyes’ season does not officially begin until Jan. 19, when they will perform in the Windy City Invitational, which is hosted by Illinois-Chicago. The nature of the Big Ten season will also be a way to improve during competitions — several of the nation’s top-ranked teams reside in the conference.

“The competition in the Big Ten really increases your skill level,” senior Broderick Shemansky told The Daily Iowan on April 5.

But until conference competition begins, the Hawkeyes will mostly work on repetition — they have exhausted their routine work. Regardless of the training methods they work on before that first meet in Chicago, Reive knows his team will be pushing one another to the limit.

“They want to beat each other,” he said. “But at the same time, while pushing each other, they also want the guy that they’re beating to do the best that he can. That’s how we’ll continue to improve.”

Reive believes his culture has finally set in. Reive and the 20-member squad believe that “the journey” will pay dividends if they continue to build upon that foundation.

“They’ve embraced the culture and accepted it as their program,” Reive said. “There’s no more of me coming in and imposing my ideas on them. It’s a group. We’re all working to better the Hawkeyes and put them on the podium where they belong.”

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