Tham Overcomes Obstacles And Looks Forward To Junior Season
Oct. 9, 2011
By: Mollie Hanke
SEATTLE - The members of the Husky gymnastics team are hard at work this fall preparing for the 2012 season, which officially begins in January. Junior Phoebe Tham is one of these hardworking athletes, and she has prepared and trained all summer and throughout the fall to prepare for what could be her best year yet.
Tham was born in Singapore, where she lived with her parents and brother, Aaron, until she was 10. In 2000, the family moved to Vancouver, B.C., which she considers to be her hometown, even though her immediate family has now relocated to Seattle to live closer to her. Choosing to attend and compete at Washington was not a hard choice for her after seeing the campus and meeting the coaches. "[When] I came on my recruiting trip here, it was just really fun. I love the coaches and I love the team [and] it's a great school." She also had a connection to UW in that her club team coach, David Kenwright, also coached UW track and gymnastics All-American Carly Dockendorf, who is the fifth ranked pole vaulter in Canadian history.
Since choosing UW, she has never regretted her decision, and finds it hard to even pick just one favorite thing about being a Husky. "There's so much. Everything here is just so great - the support system, all the resources are great. Our school is so beautiful, our athletic facilities are so beautiful. Everything is just great."
Her parents, like with many other athletes, started her out in every activity or sport possible. For Tham it was drama, tennis, swimming, ballet, and, of course, gymnastics. "When I got older and things started getting more time-consuming, I had to start eliminating them and ended up sticking with gymnastics. It was the most fun." She continues with a laugh, "I mean, why wouldn't you want to go jump on a trampoline or swing around rather than swimming laps?" She then retracted apologetically, "I mean, nothing against swimmers."
She finds it hard to believe that she is already considered an upperclassman at UW. "It has gone very fast. When people ask me and I tell them I'm a junior, its weird coming out of my mouth. I still expect to be a freshman. I still expect my excuse to be `I'm a freshman, I don't really know what I'm doing.' But it has been a lot of fun. My class, we're all really close. We've grown up together." Because of this sentiment, she says her advice to the incoming freshmen would be "just to enjoy every moment. It goes by so fast. People told me that as a freshman, that it goes by fast, and you just have to live it to the fullest. But now that I'm a junior, I don't even remember where that time went. It goes fast and [you] just [have] to enjoy every moment of it."
The gymnastics team, in particular, finds it very important to do different bonding and team building activities together, from tailgating and flying on trapeze to pottery classes or skydiving. "We've done a lot of cool things together, and I think our team is really close because of all the things we've done." This sense of camaraderie could certainly be seen as a key to her team's success.
Tham is most excited about her bars routine and finds it the most enjoyable event to train for and compete in. She admits that "I get really nervous [on bars], but when I start, I feel like the nerves just kind of disappear because you have to just keep moving. There's not really any time to think." In general, for all four events, she is "just trying to upgrade difficulty and just do whatever I can to get into the lineups."
Head coach Joanne Bowers and assistant coach David McCreary have nothing but positive things to say about the progress they've seen Tham make in the months since the 2011 season ended, especially throughout this past summer.
Bowers said, "We are so excited about where Phoebe is right now. She worked very, very hard this summer and, right now, in all of these routines, she looks like she's never missed a beat and should be in our lineup. I told her I'm really excited about her doing floor for us this year. On beam, she learned a new flight series into a dismount [...] and she's picking it up very well and it's coming along well. So we're excited about that. She's trying to learn a new vault and she's making big strides there [and] we're liking what we're seeing and how it's coming." She concludes, "I think we're just really excited with where she is right now and I think you can see it in her face. She's getting more confident in herself and she's just really feeling like she can contribute. She's just working hard. And you talk about the nicest girl in the world who will give you everything she's got. This is really nice to see how things are coming along for her."
McCreary agrees saying "It's an all-around improvement. She's got a renewed confidence in herself and, obviously, her desire is incredibly strong. She's spending extra time on bars. She was here all summer trying to get herself ready for this year. So we're really excited and, at this point in time, she's working her way into the bar lineup, which she was in and out of last year, but she really looks strong. She'll be one of our better kids on bars."
One of her favorite memories of being a part of the UW gymnastics team came at the end of last season at their regional competition in Norman, Okla. "Last year when we went to Regionals and we came together as a team and got so close to going to Nationals, we all experienced the highs and then the lows together. I wouldn't trade my memories for anything, they've been so great." She looks forward to the team finding more success and advancing even further in the upcoming 2012 season. "I'm excited to see where this team goes. I think there's a lot of potential. Everyone's working really hard. We had a great season last year and to be able to watch it build from that will be really exciting. I just can't wait for the season."