Beware of Nickie Guerrero, but don’t be afraid.
The University of Alabama gymnast doesn’t like to beat around the bush. She’d rather be direct, especially with her teammates.
“I don’t think anybody is really scared of me,” the 5-foot Texas native said. “I would just say if I have a problem, they know. But in a good way.”
As a junior, Guerrero has stepped into a rather bold leadership role. Instead of being one of the many quiet leaders on the Crimson Tide, she is a vocal figure – maybe even the most outspoken.
With the freshmen, Guerrero admits her feisty nature might have intimidated them initially. It’s only because she understands what they’re going through. She knows they’re nervous and don’t want to let the team down.
“I have to go up to them sometimes and be like, ‘Look, you’re here for a reason. You were born to do this. Just let it go. Do you,’” Guerrero said. “It definitely helps.”
See, it’s not harsh. It’s what her teammates need to hear, and she doesn’t shy away from occasional reality checks if it’ll help Alabama succeed.
Guerrero doesn’t just talk the talk either. She walks the walk, especially during competition.
“She’s on a mission every time she goes out there,” UA head coach Dana Duckworth said.
Consider it accomplished. In last week’s victory over Auburn, Guerrero scored a career-high 9.975 on the balance beam. Other top scores include her 9.95 on the vault and 9.875 on the floor exercise, both produced this season.
That’s not by taking the easy route either. Duckworth said Guerrero has the biggest vault on the team, they’re increasing her skill level on floor, and she executes one of the most difficult beam routines out there.
Actually, Guerrero has three beam routines. Oddly enough, that four-inch wide apparatus is where she feels most comfortable.
“It’s not just that she goes up there and goes 9.9 or 9.925 or 9.95,” Duckworth said. “It’s the way she carries herself, the way she expects excellence out of herself. It raises the bar for everyone to want the same thing, and that’s all a coach could hope for.”
Through eight meets, Guerrero has posted four 9.95-plus beam scores. She is individually ranked fourth in the nation with a 9.92 RQS.
Freshman Wynter Childers is shocked, but also idolizes, how consistent Guerrero is.
“She’s the most confident beam worker I have ever seen,” Childers said. “Literally, I think I’ve seen her fall maybe once, and it wasn’t even a fall.”
The lowest beam score Guerrero has ever received was a 9.325, and it was during her second meet as a freshman. Last year, she bottomed out at a 9.775. She hasn’t gone below a 9.8 this season.
Guerrero has competed in 31 meets, never once omitting the beam. Her 32nd appearance will be Friday night against Boise State at home in Coleman Coliseum.
“When I’m on the beam, I’m actually really calm,” Guerrero said. “Then, when I come off, I look like I’m about to jump through the roof.”
Look out for her signature fist pump.