Feb. 14, 2008
Junior Jennifer Naughton is a stalwart on the 2008 Northern Illinois gymnastics team who has already been named the Mid-American Conference Specialist of the Week once this season. The Smithville, Mo. ranks among the top gymnasts in the MAC and in the region in the balance beam and also has achieved some of the top scores on the vault and floor exercise.
Nicknames: "Red" has been my nickname since I was five. There were about five other Jennifers in my gymnastics class, so my first coach gave me the nickname to keep from getting confused.
Favorite Musical Genre: 80's rock and country.
Favorite Movie: All three "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies.
Favorite TV Show: "Desperate Housewives"
Favorite Pro Sports Team: Kansas City Chiefs
What has been the biggest difference from your hometown and DeKalb?
"I came from a small town, so DeKalb is definitely quite a change. It is a lot different from my high school, where I knew everyone. I am just glad to live here and have the opportunity to meet so many different people."
What is the best part about living in DeKalb?
"The best part would be living with my roommates--the junior girls on the gymnastics team. They are a bunch of great girls and are always fun to be around."
What is your favorite gymnastics memory?
"The most memorable and gratifying memory so far was beating the University of Illinois at the State Competition last year. Everybody was extremely excited and it was something that you can never forget."
What place has been your favorite road trip so far in your college career?
Any favorite hobbies?
"As far as sight-seeing goes, I would have to say Denver [in 2007]. It was really beautiful there, and the weather was nice too when we went. It was a nice escape from the weather and landscape of DeKalb. Otherwise, I would have to say the Missouri meet, because a lot of my friends were able to come see me compete."
"As of right now, my new favorite hobby is racquetball."
If you did not compete in gymnastics in college, what would you be doing?
"I would probably compete for the NIU track team. I participated in long jump and triple jump while in high school."
Who has had the greatest impact on your life thus far?
"My mom. She has been through everything with me. She is a strong person who works hard, and I am always striving to be as good a person as her. She always has my back and is my best friend."
Do you have any pre-meet rituals?
"Every meet, I have to wear the same ribbons in my hair from freshman year. Every year the team gets new ribbons for our hair, but Leah Johnson and I wear our old ones. Besides that, I also like to listen to music to get myself ready for the meet."
What has been the best advice given to you by a coach?
"The best advice I have received would probably be from our assistant coach Sam [Morreale]. He always says `Don't be afraid of greatness.'"
What is one goal that you would like to accomplish this season?
"I would love to see our team advance to [NCAA] Regionals, as well as win the MAC this year. I know that is what everybody really wants and is striving for this year. This year is looking great to achieve that, because we have a lot of things working for us: more fans, everyone on the team has a great attitude, and we are all meshing well together as a team."
What aspect do you like most about being on the NIU Gymnastics team?
"The other athletes that you meet. The student-athletes are really like a big family. I also am grateful that I have gotten to know the girls on my team. Everyone has so many different qualities to offer and they are really great people. I am really lucky."
Why did you decide to come to NIU?
"A couple of the older girls from my club gym came here. When deciding where to go, I knew I wanted to go somewhere where I already knew a couple of girls. Also, Ashton Flora and I grew up together and knew we wanted to finish our gymnastics careers together at the same college, and we both decided on Northern."
What is the toughest part about being an athlete at NIU?
"Time management issues. When you are a student-athlete, you have to worry about both school and athletics, and it is challenging to find time to succeed in both. However, since I live with other gymnasts, I see them do it and convince myself that if they can manage it than I can do it too."
Funniest memory in gymnastics so far is...
"There are so many to choose from, it's hard to pick just one. At a meet last year, we were running out to start the meet and one of the girls stepped on the pants of the girl in front of her. Unfortunately, the girl was not competing that day and didn't have a leotard on underneath. Thankfully, it wasn't too horrible because not a lot of people noticed, but looking back it was definitely a funny moment."
The words I try to live by are...
"Live with no regrets and never forget who you are."
-- NIU --