When the Maryland gymnastics team takes a bus to an away meet — like Friday's Temple Tri Meet — they don't sit quietly to themselves and worry.
Instead, the Terps use travel time as an opportunity to strengthen their friendships with each other, becoming closer and putting them in a positive mindset entering the road environment.
"On the bus, we actually get to interact with all of the teammates," freshman Audrey Barber said. "If I want to talk to one of the seniors, I can just walk to the back of the bus and talk to one of them. On a plane, we can't really do that."
That helps take the pressure off the team as it navigates tough stretches like this weekend, when it competes at Temple and then returns home for the Maryland Five Meet on Sunday, its second consecutive two-meet weekend.
In the week before the meet, the team mainly focused on cleaner landings, especially on vault. Last weekend, vault was their lowest scored rotation, 48.725, with one gymnast scoring as low as 9.175. None of the competitors were able to break a 9.8.
The bus ride can be a useful way to decompress after a stressful meet. Barber said sometimes the team focuses too much on achieving perfection rather than relaxing and performing their skills.
"Some [of the team] were focusing too much on how to do it," Barber said, "but couldn't actually do it."
Sophomore Kirsten Peterman's 9.775 led the team on vault. Despite its low scores, the team doesn't view the event as being more problematic than others.
"I wouldn't say that we have any weaknesses in particular," Peterman said. "As a team, we've really come together and bought into this process to give it our all every single meet, every single practice."
The team, and coach Brett Nelligan, plan to sharpen landings one step at a time, focusing on each individual routine for each meet.
"We don't try to win the whole meet, we don't even try to win one event," Nelligan said. "We try to win one routine at a time, one skill at a time."