Freshman Denasiha Christian’s success has been a long time coming.

“I started when I was 3,” Christian said of her gymnastics career. Christian’s grandmother was the first person to scout her talents. After noticing several acrobatic displays around the house, she decided to put her in a gym. Once Christian got her foot in the door, she never looked back.  

The freshman gymnast is playing a major part in the recent accomplishments of Ball State’s gymnastics program.

Prior to coming to Ball State, the Roanoke Academy of Gymnastics was Christian’s home gym. It was through this gym that she won the vault and all-around at the 2010 Virginia State Meet.

Ball State has given Christian a chance to grow both as a gymnast and a person. 

“I feel like being here has changed me, like in a good way,” she said. 

Things had become redundant at her club gym. She felt as though she had reached her ceiling. Now, with the introduction of new challenges and opportunities, the competitive spirit in Christian has been renewed. 

“I have more motivation now,” Christian said. “We can go to MAC, and actually win.” 

That attitude has been present among both players and coaches this year. 

From the outside looking in, expectations were low coming into the season. In the 2013 MAC Gymnastics Preseason Coach’s Poll, Ball State was projected to finish sixth out of the seven conference teams. The Cardinals are currently 2-0 in the MAC. 

With two conference wins, they have matched their total from last year. Perhaps their sweetest victory, a win over the No. 16 ranked Central Michigan Chippewas, resulted in the highest team score since the 2011 season. 

In the 2011-12 season, Central Michigan was on top of the conference with a 6-0 MAC record. 

Of the 24 players on the current roster, 10 of them are underclassmen.

Christian has shined on a young and talented roster.

The Virginia native has taken advantage of every opportunity put in front of her.

In her first collegiate meet at Florida, Christian was Ball State’s top performer on the vault with a score of 9.8 out of 10. She also placed fifth overall on the floor after posting a 9.725. One of the largest venues in the country had no effect on the first-time competitor. That meet against No. 3 ranked Florida brought in a crowd of roughly 4,000 spectators.   

The attendance at Ball State meets averages approximately 600.

After the strong performance at Florida, head coach Nadalie Walsh moved Christian into the beam rotation. The result was more of the same from Christian. She finished with at least one first-place finish in each of the next three meets. Perhaps most impressively, she did it in three different events. 

In Iowa, she tied for first place on the beam. She followed that up with a first-place finish on the vault against Central Michigan. Most recently, against Northern Illinois, Christian again tied for first place, this time on the floor. Walsh described Christian as a “really good athlete and a great competitor.” 

“She has the ability to take all the bouncy-power that she has, and control it,” Walsh said. Walsh believes that Christian will continue to improve as the season goes on. 

Christian agrees with Walsh’s sentiment. 

When asked if she could continue to improve throughout the rest of the season, Christian became lit up.

“I see [progress] every week,” she said.

Christian’s next opportunity for improvement will come Friday when the Cardinals host Penn and Centenary College in the team’s first tri-meet of the season.