Iowa gymnastics’ Chow embraces standing out

Senior Nicole Chow is in her final year as a GymHawk, but one thing that she has learned is to stand out and be confident in who she is as a gymnast and as a person.


David Harmantas

Iowa gymnast Nicole Chow performs on the uneven bars during a gymnastics meet against Rutgers on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights 194.575 to 191.675.

Jess Westendorf, Sports Reporter

It is no surprise that senior Nicole Chow embraces the GymHawks’ new season motto, “Stand Out,” because she is confident in showing what makes her unique as a person and as a gymnast.

The whole concept of “Stand Out” is for people to find their identities, let them shine through, and be proud of who they are while showcasing them.

On Chow’s practice bag, there is a nickname — Chowwey. The nickname is just one part of how the gymnast embraces her name and herself. The name originated during her first recruiting visit. 

“The name actually came from my Instagram handle,” she said. “It is all I have been known as ever since my first recruiting trip. Not even Nicole but Chowwey.”

The nickname has even spread to where her teammates and coaches now refer to her as Chowwey, not Nicole.

But her nickname doesn’t make her stand out among the rest. Instead, it is how she has become an inspiring leader for her teammates and her coaches to rely on.

She attributed much of her ability to stand out to her coaches and how they encouraged her to be herself and not be afraid to be unique.

Katie Goodale
Nicole Chow performs on the uneven bars during the women’s gymnastic meet against the University of Minnesota on Saturday, January 19, 2019. The Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes 195.475- 194.350. Chow got a 9.825 on the uneven bars.

“What makes me stand out is who I am and the love I have for what I am able to do,” Chow said. “But as I have figured out over the years a little more about myself, our coaches are really able to bring it out of us and allow us to be who we actually are. It has been great to learn to do that while I have been a part of the program.”

Head coach Larissa Libby’s first response was a simple, “I love that kid.” 

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What made the native of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, stand out to Libby was Chow’s ability to show her sense of humor and her passion.

“I think I just liked how she let her sense of humor always show when I recruited her,” Libby said. “I love to be around people who love laughter, and she never took anything overly seriously. While she was conscientious, and focused, and disciplined, it did not rule her life, and that was the thing that I liked. It stood out because she looked at everything differently and still worked hard.”

The 2018 All-Big Ten gymnast has become an influential leader for her teammates and has had a true effect on the team as a whole.

“We could not go without her; it would be crazy to go without her and her voice,” Libby said. “Her passion, her sense of humor, and making it OK to love what you do and to show it is a great thing to see.”

As Chow finishes up her final season as a GymHawk, she said, she has loved the time she has had with her teammates, but the advice that she has passed onto the younger gymnasts will continue to have a lasting effect and help them “Stand Out.”

“When they are struggling a little bit, and I know that I have been through the same thing, I didn’t get to where I am by being perfect,” Chow said. “I feel like I can teach them it is OK to fall, it is OK to make mistakes because that is how we are going to get better.”

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