It’s March now. Spring is just around the corner. And you know what that means? It’s time to start talking about whether Shayla Worley should be pulled from lineups. It has become an annual tradition. You’ll miss it when she’s gone.
2012 was supposed to be Shayla’s Renaissance, but it hasn’t worked out because of performances like this:
Do you bench Shayla because she hasn’t been hitting consistently, giving up on her potential score and accepting a 9.750 on bars and floor from a Sarah Persinger or Mariel Box? Or do you keep Shayla in the lineup hoping that she gains some competition confidence and figures out her routines?
Georgia is certainly not alone in having this dilemma. UCLA is going through the same thing given how many times Mattie Larson has had mistakes on floor. The judges will be itching to give her big scores if she actually hits her routine, but she has fallen or made major mistakes so many times. With Peszek and Gerber coming back into the floor lineup this week, there is the temptation to bench Mattie, even though her potential score is much higher than the score from someone like Gerber or Frattone.
In my mind, as a coach you have to take the riskier option. You have to put faith in a Shayla or a Mattie that they will hit when it matters because taking the other option does not reflect a championship attitude. The very top teams could all play it safe, make finals, and finish 4th-6th, but whichever team does end up winning the title will have all the best gymnasts hitting to potential at the same time. Benching a top performer because she has been missing is basically giving up on the best possible performance, maybe even giving up on a championship. Playing it safe may be the most prudent option, but it’s not the best option. If a team has the talent and potential but doesn’t show it, then what’s the point?
After working together for all these months, a coach must display the utmost confidence in both the team and the process. At this point in the season, sending the message that the coaching staff does not trust a major performer to hit undermines what the team has been working for all year, creating uncertainty and eroding confidence. Even if it all turns out to be a disaster, the coach must go down with the ship.