Cindy Tucker (nee Hemstad) has always carried herself with a lot of pride.
She worked hard to succeed when she was growing up in Brandon and competing in gymnastics with the Brandon Eagles and that garnered her a full NCAA Division I scholarship to Northern Illinois University. Even though she was in a different country, Tucker was so proud of being from the Wheat City and the Great White North that she taught every member of the Huskies the words of "O Canada."
That act was one of many that helped bring the 1991 Huskies team together and helped it become the school’s most successful gymnastics team ever. It posted a 22-1 record and reached the Mississippi Valley Regional Championship, which it lost 190.15 to 189.55 to Missouri State.
Tucker was always proud to be a part of that team — competing in all four events that season — and now she has even more reason to look back on those fond memories as the gymnastics squad was inducted into the Northern Illinois University Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday.
"It’s a huge honour," Tucker said via telephone yesterday. "I think it means more to be part of a team to be inducted than an individual. It just really speaks volume about a great group of individuals we had working together. The team that’s being inducted only had nine individual athletes, when typically there would be a team of 10. It just speaks volumes about how well we worked hard and worked together. It’s a huge honour."
The 1991 Northern Illinois gymnastics team still stands as the most successful in the school’s history, and it bettered every school record that season.
A lot of time has passed since then, and things have changed a lot for Tucker. She’s married, with two children, and works as the director of rehabilitation for the Kishwaukee Community Hospital and as a physiotherapist in Dekalb, Ill.
However, Tucker still is proud of where she came from and credits the Eagles program and her opportunities to compete in regional and national championships for making an easy transition to her life with the Huskies. Tucker also tries to come home a handful of times a year as her parents still live in Brandon.
While you won’t find her doing gymnastics routines anymore, she is still involved in the sport.
"I work closely with the local gymnastics team about rehabbing all the athletes," she said. "I work with the local club team and I work closely with the university team as well."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 12, 2013