DAB ON 'EM: Kennady Schneider
In the final seconds of her routine against Michigan State University, Arizona sophomore gymnast Kennady Schneider left the McKale Center crowd with something to talk about. She fell to her knees and did a popular dance move, the Dab, to a thunderous applause from the crowd and her teammates.
The choice was spur-of-the-moment and was never originally part of her floor choreography routine, according to Schneider.
“At our first home meet, I was just really happy with how I performed, so I just decided to do it on the spot,” Schneider said. “I didn’t tell my teammates and my coaches didn’t know it was going to happen, so it was the highlight of my season so far.”
This is a season in which Schneider has seen her role on the team expand, as she now anchors the final spot on-floor for the Wildcats at every meet. Schneider’s career high on floor is 9.900, a score she has hit multiple times already this season.
“Kennady has a huge personality,” Arizona gymnastics head coach Tabitha Yim said. “I think what’s great about floor is that it allows our girls to bring their style and personality … through their gymnastics to really impact the crowd. She choreographed her own routine and cut her own music, so I think it’s very special to her and brings energy to the crowd and team seeing her have fun out there.”
At a recent men’s basketball game, the GymCats were warming up for their half-time performance. The famous song “Hit the Quan” by iLoveMemphis came through the McKale Center loud speakers, causing Schneider and Yim to break into a dance routine. The duo has even performed the moves in a recent ZonaZoo video.
That energy and pride is what Schneider constantly brings to every meet in which she competes. Self-described as spunky and memorable, she wants the crowd and the judges to leave with that same excitement she brings to the floor.
“I like to keep the audience on their toes a lot, so I don’t know if you will see me dabbing at the end of my routines or something else,” Schneider said. “I just like to keep people engaged and seeing new things.”
One of the ways she keeps the audiences and her teammates on their toes is through her self-choreographed routines. While most gymnasts neither cut their own music nor choreograph their routines, Schneider has found inspiration and a way to implement her personality by bringing her own story to each routine she performs.
“It comes really naturally to me,” Schneider said. “Whatever sounds right and feels right I put together. It’s really easy to choreograph for yourself because you know what looks good on you and what feels good on you. It was just being myself and picking out the moves that I feel most comfortable in.”
At the moment, that is through modern dance moves and 1990s hip-hop music. Schneider said she chose them because they are a reflection of whom she is. She found inspiration through art and is a studio art sophomore. While recently attending a museum in New York, she was fascinated by the work of Bill Brandt.
“It was seeing the world through a different perspective,” Schneider said. “I want people to see me in a different light than just a normal gymnast. I want them to see me as a performer, as … Kennady first, GymCat second.”
Throughout meets, Schneider is pretty easy to spot. Just look for the gymnast getting down to the music. She said her two favorite dance moves are the Batusi (or peace sign across the eyes) and the Quan.
While many may stray away from being in the moment while in front of thousands of people, Schneider embraces the public eye.
“I do better when there’s a big crowd because I like the support,” Schneider said. “We don’t really get this so much in our life. We get it for these four years so I like to show off what I love to do and having a big crowd is definitely the support I need for that.”
Although she is a sophomore, Schneider has taken on a leadership role and understands that every choice she makes will affect her team.
“Growing up, gymnastics was always a very individual sport,” Schneider said. “You compete for yourself. Coming here to Arizona, it changes into a team sport. The biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that it’s not about me anymore, it’s about the team. Every decision that I make inside the gym and outside the gym reflects the team and not just myself.”
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