The very nature of winning and losing is a misleading and fickle thing. Oftentimes, losing and winning aren’t necessarily defined by rigid borders or actions that reside within the boundaries of sole goodness or badness. To win hardly means to not lose, and to lose rarely heralds an experience entirely winless.
Cal’s 2022 women’s gymnastics season, while ultimately cut short on the national scale, was hardly a season defined by loss. By definition, to lose is to “be deprived of or cease to have or retain (something).” Yet it is undeniable that the Bears had a record-shattering season marked by impressive individual and team performances — something they will never be deprived of or cease to retain.
Is it possible to simply deprive Cal of its first ever Pac-12 championship title? Or to deprive the team of its twinning 9.5s on beam to stamp a program-best beam performance at the NCAA regionals? Surely, these victories can’t just cease to be retained.
But winning and losing are misleading and fickle things, and just because the Bears finished with, arguably, their best season in program history doesn’t mean their wins were lossless. But April 2, the team was deprived of one opportunity, and a sizable one at that: the ability to compete in the postseason and make it to the very end.
“I think that this team has the ability to go all the way, deep into the postseason,” said co-head coach Justin Howell at the start of the season. “Our goal always is to be competing on the last night of the national game. That’s definitely a long-term goal that we would like to achieve, and I believe that we can.”
Despite being unable to advance to the regional finals, Howell’s belief in the team’s artistry and power was not ill-placed. The Bears’ ability shined throughout the season as they took down impressive teams like No. 4 Utah, knocking down teams left and right and only taking two losses on their way to becoming Pac-12 champions.
After the blue and gold took second behind the Utes at Maverik Center during the Pac-12 championships, the team had already racked up victories worth a lifetime — traveling further down the NCAA road would’ve just been the cherry on top.
So despite the loss at regionals, it is indisputable that this season is most notable by one fact: a season boasting wins from start to finish. What is even more indisputable is that while winning is inevitably always the goal, it is not Cal’s motivation for competing the way it does.
“The reason that we do this is because we love gymnastics, and we love competing for Cal,” Howell said.
Mia Wachtel covers women’s gymnastics. Contact her at [email protected].