Los Angeles has Kobe. Texas has A-Rod. Seattle has Ichiro. Today’s star athletes are identified by one name, which almost always represents a career full of record-setting statistics, achievements, clutch performances and team titles.
GW has Devin.
At this year’s Atlantic 10 Championships, senior gymnast Devin McCalla made conference history by scoring a perfect 10.0 on the beam and breaking her own all-around record.
“This year was sweet revenge. Freshman year I couldn’t stay on the beam if you paid me. I was afraid of it,” McCalla said.
Looking at her decorated and successful career, it is hard to imagine this year’s A-10 beam champion ever struggled with event. Then again, it is hard to believe she struggled at any aspect in gymnastics.
In McCalla’s four years at GW, she has racked up an impressive resume of conference honors: 1999 Most Outstanding Rookie Performer, six time Rookie of the Week, 2000 and 2002 Performer of the Year, 2000 and 2002 All-Around Champion, 14 Performer of the Week awards and four Atlantic 10 titles.
McCalla looks to lead her team to its first-ever appearance at Nationals if the team can place in the top two at this weekend’s NCAA Regionals at Penn State. GW has ended its season at Regionals in the past two years. This year, McCalla and her team are hoping the third time is the charm.
GW will compete in the Northeast region against Penn State, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska and Pittsburgh. Last year GW placed fourth in its region and finished the season ranked 17th in the nation.
When McCalla graduates from GW in May with a major in communications and a minor in performance arts, she will leave a lasting legacy. The senior co-captain from Dallas has helped elevate GW’s gymnastics program to one of the top teams in the nation. Over the past three years, McCalla has seen her team rise from being unranked in the nation, to 26th after her sophomore year, to 17th last year.
McCalla came to a GW team that had just won its first of five consecutive A-10 titles, but thoughts of a national berth had not entered the picture.
“Coming in as a freshman no one ever spoke about Nationals,” McCalla said. “I think I have helped them believe that we can do it. I believe in talking about going to Nationals on a daily basis. We can’t be afraid of things we want.”
Even with all her individual honors, one of McCalla’s proudest moments was the Colonials A-10 Championship that came freshman year. (The team failed to rack up enough points in the regular to qualify for Regionals).
“Our freshman year started off pretty bad and for us to come to where we did at the end of the season to win the A-10’s was great,” McCalla said. “That team laid the base for what we have now.”
As a senior in high school, McCalla had a number of schools to choose from but narrowed it down to three: Arizona State, the University of Florida and GW. McCalla’s parents advised that she go somewhere where she would be happy if she couldn’t compete in gymnastics. So she landed at GW.
With all her successes, McCalla said she has not dreamed of competing at a higher level, such as the Olympics. Her dream has been to perform on Broadway.
“Growing up I liked watching gymnasts such as Brandi Johnson and Kim Zemeskel but I never wanted to be an Olympic gymnast,” McCalla said. “I just thought it was too hard. I thought nothing is worth all that. To sacrifice so much and you might not even make it to the games, let alone win a medal.”
McCalla splits time between schoolwork, gymnastics, and performance. The senior, who has sang the National Anthem before numerous GW athletic events, has appeared in every performance produced by GW’s Music and Theater Department since she arrived, including “A Chorus Line.” McCalla said she hopes to be accepted into The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York which but has to wait until the summer to find out.
If this weekend proves to be McCalla’s last as a member of the GW gymnastics team, the senior said she won’t be disappointed. She is proud of her legacy. While she knows it might be two or three years after she leaves until her team gets to Nationals, she is proud.
“Here at GW I learned it’s not always about the result,” McCalla said “It’s about the journey.”