Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Orel Thankful For Strong Career

By Brian Rosenthal

Catelyn Orel, a native of Blue Springs, Missouri, known mostly for her contribution on uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise, has been consistent throughout her Nebraska career. Saturday's annual Masters Classic at the Devaney Center will likely be her final home meet, as she's deciding whether to return for another season of eligibility or graduate and continue the next step in her life. Last season, while limited to uneven bars and floor exercise, she was a large help in getting the Huskers to their 12th appearance at the Super Six Finals. She discussed her career with Brian Rosenthal of in this question-and-answer session.

BR: What will factor into your decision to bypass your final season of eligibility or return, and how bittersweet is the thought of moving on?

Catelyn: “My body is kind of coming to the end. Really, I’ve enjoyed this experience so much and I’ve gotten so much more out of it than just the gymnastics. Even though I couldn’t compete my sophomore year, I feel like I was just as much a part of the process as if I was competing. So it doesn’t even seem like I had a year off. Yes, it’s very bittersweet. I’m graduating in May, too, so everything is coming to a close. It’s kind of all hitting me at one time. It’s been a little overwhelming but I’m excited to see what the next chapter is for me.”

BR: What’s been the biggest transition to a new coach this season, and how has the team handled it?

Catelyn: “I think the team has handled it so well. Heather is definitely the best person for this position. She relates to us so well because she’s walked through these halls and she’s a national champion for Nebraska. She knows exactly what it takes. It’s cool to have her feedback because it’s very trustworthy. She gets to know her athletes so personally. She coaches to each individual, to each person, not just broadly, which is something I really respect and appreciate about her."

BR: What’s your most challenging event, and why?

Catelyn: “Bars. It’s definitely my most challenging event. I struggle with anxiety a lot. I had a lot of crashes and a lot of scary falls. Last year leading into regionals and nationals I landed on my neck a few times on my dismount. I tried to work through it, but for regionals and nationals I asked Danielle Breen, a senior, ‘I don’t feel confident in myself, but I really want us to make nationals and make Super Six, so can you do bars?’ She’s like, ‘Yeah, I got you.’ And it worked out, which was awesome. That’s exactly what a team does. I actually told my coaches I wasn’t going to do bars this year. It’s kind of crazy I’ve been able to work through that and put a routine together with a new dismount. My teammates have helped me gain that confidence back. That’s been a journey in itself for me.”

BR: Which event comes easiest to you, and why?

Catelyn: “Floor probably comes the easiest. That’s always been one of my favorites. I love dancing, I love performing. I used to hate competing beam, but now I love it. It’s one of my favorites to compete now. I think that has a lot to do with Heather.”

BR: Who’s given the most impressive, dynamic floor routine you’ve ever seen?

Catelyn: “When I was little I really looked up Alicia Sacramone. Just her confidence and her presence. Kind of that whole 2008 generation. She and Shawn Johnson, of course. They always had these dynamic and entertaining floor routines, and I always wanted to do something like that.”

BR: If you weren’t doing gymnastics would be there another sport you would try to do?

Catelyn: “I would probably do dancing, to be honest with you. I’ve always wanted to do that.”

BR: Nebraska has had “Pink Out” meets in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness. How important and touching is that to you personally, considering your mother battled breast cancer?

Catelyn: “This last one was probably the most special to me, because I’ve always been injured during the Pink meets at home. I’ve not been super lucky with injuries, but this last one is probably the healthiest I’ve ever been for that meet. It was probably one of my best meets of my career, and it was part of my comeback from my knee surgery. It was a lot of things built into one, and to be able to do that for my mom, it relieves pressure off you, doing it for someone else. It was really exciting for me being able to do that for her.”

BR: I’ve always wondered, what happens to all of the flowers you’re awarded in post-meet awards ceremonies?

Catelyn: “There’s a few we dry up and put in a frame or something, but sometimes I’ll give them to little girls in the stands or something like that. The flowers just die, so might as well make an impression on somebody."

BR: What team would you consider Nebraska’s rival in women’s gymnastics, and why?

Catelyn: “Probably Michigan in the Big Ten, for sure. They’re such a great team and I have a lot of respect for them. We’re always neck and neck when it comes to postseason."

BR: What will you miss most about Nebraska?

Catelyn: “That’s the hardest question ever. I think my team. The relationships I’ve built here, they compare to nothing else. The friendships and everything have been so important to me as a person and help me grow in my life outside of athletics and help me become the person I want to be.”

Reach Brian at or follow him on Twitter @GBRosenthal.


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