Missouri gymnast named to Community of Champions

Friday, February 19, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA — For the second year in a row, a Missouri gymnast has been named a member of the Big 12 Conference's Community of Champions.

The Community of Champions recognizes student athletes who excel in academics, community service, leadership and sportsmanship. The Big 12 recognizes one student athlete per university in each of three terms during the year. Missouri sophomore gymnast Allie Heizelman was honored by the Big 12 last week for her efforts in and out of the gym.

Friday night meet

Oklahoma at Missouri

WHEN: 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: Hearnes Center

“We have a lot of other great student athletes here at Mizzou," Heizelman said, "and I’m just excited to be one of the ones who got recognized.”

Heizelman found out about her accomplishment after Missouri assistant coach John Figueroa texted her “congratulations.” She didn’t know what that meant at first, but an e-mail from media relations let her know what was going on.

Heizelman holds office on Missouri’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and also volunteers at a children's hospital and a food bank.

“I enjoy it,” Heizelman said. “Packaging food isn’t the most fun thing you can do, but just the fact that I’m with my team and we’re getting to hang out, but also help out a cause.”

Last year’s winter term honoree was Missouri gymnast Alicia Hatcher. Heizelman and her teammates see it as no coincidence that Missouri gymnasts have been recognized two years in a row.

“I definitely think it’s something that the coaching staff stresses,” Heizelman said. “Not that we’re just good gymnasts, that we’re good in the classroom, being a positive role model in the community, that’s very important to Rob (Drass)."

Heizelman and the Tigers face a big challenge at 6:30 p.m. Friday night when they host No. 2 Oklahoma at the Hearnes Center.

The Sooners are 6-0 this season and have claimed each of the past two Big 12 championships. So the Tigers are moving up a level in competition after beating unranked New Hampshire and Centenary. Drass sees Friday’s matchup as an opportunity for the Tigers.

“With one of the best teams in the country coming in, I don’t have to do a whole lot of motivating this week,” Drass said. “(Missouri gymnasts) are focused and ready. They want it bad.”

Senior Sarah Shire was asked if anything changes for her when she sees that No. 2 ranking.

“No,” she replied. “When I see Oklahoma, something changes.”

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