The Wolverine

August 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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40 THE WOLVERINE AUGUST 2021 BY JOHN BORTON J unior gymnast Natalie Wojcik emerged as The Wolverine's Female Athlete of the Year in 2020-21, but quickly cautioned she doesn't stand alone. In fact, she's among an assortment of All-Americans garnering consider- ation for the award, including a couple of national champion team- mates. Wojcik, soph- o m o r e S i e r r a B ro o k s a n d junior Abby H e i s k e l l p r o p e l l e d t h e Wo l - verines to the national title, while se- nior basketball star Naz Hillmon dazzled everyone in her sport. Looking at that field and beyond, Wojcik sounded deeply appreciative of the distinction. "It's such an honor," she said. "There are so many incredible female athletes here at Michigan. It's so cool watching what all of them are doing. We push each other to be better. "We see each other in the weight room sometimes. Honestly, the fe- male athletes here are just top tier." Michigan women's gymnastics coach Bev Plocki underscored the difficulty of singling one individual out, describing Wojcik and Brooks as "such incredible young women." Wojcik, she indicated, "is definitely very deserving, and just an amazing woman all the way around." Wojcik proved amazing enough to post a pair of perfect 10.0 scores this season — on the vault at the Big Ten Championship and on the balance beam at Nebraska. She logged a per- sonal-best 9.950 on the floor exercise at this year 's NCAA Finals, posted the second-best Michigan all-around score ever at the Finals (39.7375) and holds the Michigan career record with 16 all-around scores of 39.600 or higher, with three topping 39.700. A three-event WCGA first-team reg- ular-season All-American (bars, beam, all-around) this year, she also won the Big Ten vault champion. She's now a three-time All-Big Ten first-teamer, made the All-Big Ten Championships Team twice and has been U-M's team MVP for three straight seasons. In other words, the deserving can't be argued, in any field of standouts. "Natalie is the kind of person that's just been really passionate about gymnastics since she was very, very young," Plocki said. "She's always been extremely disciplined. She is a textbook athlete, in terms of what a coach would want. "She has her priorities in order, dis- ciplined in the classroom, disciplined in the gym. We don't ever have to worry about kicking her in the butt or pushing her. If anything, we have to talk her down sometimes. "She expects perfection every day, and that's not a very realistic expec- tation. Letting her know that she can't be her own worst enemy and be too hard on herself is important. Since her freshman year, she's gotten a little bit better." She factored in as a key part of a team that couldn't have been any better in terms of a national finish this season. The 2021 title, Wojcik in- sists, wasn't any happy accident. WOMEN'S ATHLETE OF THE YEAR NATALIE WOJCIK THE BEST THE BEST OF THE OF THE BEST BEST Natalie Wojcik Stands Out Among An Array Of Stars Wojcik, a junior, became the Big Ten vault champion this year and has been team MVP for three straight seasons. PHOTO BY C. MORGAN ENGEL/NCAA PHOTOS VIA GETTY IMAGES

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