The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

First-year gymnast Eva Volpe adjusting to college, trusting the process

Volpe has made a name for herself in the Big Ten, being named Freshman of the Week three times this season.
Grace Smith
Iowa’s Eva Volpe performs a floor routine during a gymnastics meet between No. 23 Iowa and No. 21 Washington at Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa, on Friday, Jan. 12, 2024. Volpe scored 9.775 on the floor. In the fourth meeting between Iowa and Washington, the Hawkeyes defeated the Huskies, 196.400-196.250.

Competing as a first-year in Big Ten gymnastics can be difficult. For first-year Eva Volpe, her introduction under head coach Larissa Libby has been about trusting the process.

“We promised her to stay the course and it will be fine,” Libby said. “She is the perfect picture of staying the course and just trusting the process because as a freshman, you don’t. It is so hard, and she has done everything she can.”

Hailing from Pearland, Texas, Volpe has learned and experienced more in her first season than she ever expected she would.

Volpe started the season learning from two-time All-American Adeline Kenlin in all-around.

After an injury to Kenlin after the third competition of the season, Volpe stepped in and filled the void.

“There is nobody on the team or on our staff that did not believe that she would merge into this role,” Libby said. “I just think that her confidence level is coming up just slightly, and she is happy.”

So far this season, Volpe has made a name for herself in the Big Ten. The first-year won Big Ten Freshman of the Week three times and is the only GymHawk to get recognized by the conference this season.

Volpe has also shown steady improvement at every competition, breaking her all-around score three times this season.

“The awards are nice, but honestly she is the most humble kid you are ever going to meet,” Libby said. “It bugs her when we announce it in the gym. It is exciting for her, but I think she would trade that any day to win a team title.”

An adjustment Volpe has had to make was switching from the club level to a more team environment in college. So far, Volpe hasn’t had any struggles with this change.

“Club is mostly individual,” Volpe said. “College is more of a team aspect, which I was really excited for, and I haven’t felt like it is too hard to come to that. It is a really good feeling.”

Libby credits the rest of her GymHawk team for giving Volpe the confidence she needs to compete at the highest level.

“I really think she has moved from ‘I think’ to ‘I know.’” Libby said. “The team has been very great to her in making sure she understands how great she is, not just as a gymnast, but as a human. They have lovingly pushed her into the spotlight because she doesn’t like the spotlight.”

Libby said that Volpe has physically gotten better in every competition, but her mindset and mental toughness have shifted the most.

“Her mindset on what she is capable of is what has changed,” Libby said. “I think she knows she can stick a vault. Her training reflects that now. She allows herself to do less. That is the thing with freshmen we are trying to teach them. Quality over quantity.”

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About the Contributors
Jake Olson, Sports Reporter
Email: [email protected] Jake Olson is a Sports Reporter for The Daily Iowan. In his three years with the paper, he has covered everything from rowing to basketball. He is studying journalism and mass communication with a minor in sports and rec management.
Grace Smith
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.