To say that SPU gymnastics was a formative force in my life is an understatement. I am incredibly thankful to you for bringing me all way out from Virginia, kicking and screaming. I still remember talking to you on the phone my junior year of high school. I can picture my parents; my dad seated at the table, my mom busying herself in the kitchen, as I spoke nervously with you. I had no idea that my life’s trajectory would spin 180ᵒ when I arrived in 1995. There were so many impactful moments those 4 years that involved you or the team that led to my identify formation. These are just a few I’d like to thank you for: You and the program you built provided a safe place for me to explore my values and identity. Thank you. You stuck with me and supported me even through my many poor decisions that first year. Thank you. You had faith in me and my ability even after injury or poor practices or when I didn’t believe in myself. Thank you. You connected me with Joy Drovdahl, who served as safe and patient spiritual guide. Thank you. You were patient with me and provided extra opportunities for me to work on skills or dance when I needed it. Thank you. You and your family helped me find a space to live when I needed to move out of the dorms. Your help in that transition was so caring. Thank you. You supported me when I chose to not stay for my redshirt year. Thank you. It was a privilege to train under you, to learn from your leadership, and to receive a first-rate education at SPU. Not only are you a great coach but you also love and protect the athletes you serve. I love you Laurel and am so thankful for the positive impact you have had on my life. Congratulations on retirement!
With love, Georgianne (Smith) Connell