(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
Beka Conrad began her colligate career at Arizona State in 2014 under long-time Sun Devil head coach John Spini. She’ll finish her tenure in Tempe under her third coach in four years.
While most would consider that too much change, Conrad considers it the opportunity of a lifetime.
She competed as an all-around gymnast for the Gym Devils her freshman year, showing her value to the team early on. Conrad competed in all-around at the NCAA regionals to help earn a fourth-place finish for the Gym Devils.
During her sophomore year, Conrad competed mostly on the uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise. Conrad experienced her first coaching change at this time when Rene Lyst took over as head coach of the Gym Devils. Lyst continued as the head coach through Conrad’s junior year, and the Newport News, Va. native began contributing mostly on beam with only a few appearances on floor.
This year, in her final season as a Gym Devil, Conrad competed as a beam specialist and she earned a career-high 9.850 on the apparatus in a home meet against Stanford. She accomplished this under the direction of yet another head coach, Jay Santos.
Most gymnasts have one coach their whole career, but Conrad had three different head coaches and coaching staffs in her four years at Arizona State.
What most might take as an inconvenience, Conrad used to her benefit. She took advantage of having three different coaches.
“See, I actually think I’m really lucky to go through that,” she said. “They have three different techniques of coaching and they all have different aspects of gymnastics and different ways to be successful.”
Another unusual factor in Conrad’s career is that she is the lone senior on the ASU team and is the only returning upperclassman this year. But, Conrad had no problem fitting into her role as a team leader.
“As a person, a teammate, Beka’s been awesome for us this year,” ASU head coach Jay Santos said. “She’s really embraced the leadership role with this young team, so I couldn’t ask for more out of her in that way.”
As the team’s only senior, Conrad became a role model for her younger teammates.
“Beka has meant the world to this team,” ASU sophomore Justine Callis said. “She’s taught us so much through her stories and experiences and she’s just full of so much wisdom.”
According to Callis, there’s an ongoing joke that Conrad is the “grandma” of the team because of the immense strength and knowledge that Conrad shares with them.
“I honestly can’t imagine the team without Beka. It’s going to be really tough for us,” Callis said.
Conrad will compete in her final Pac-12 Gymnastics Championships on Saturday in Palo Alto, Calif.