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April 09, 2004

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Friday, April 09, 2004

Stanford's Dan Gill wins the Heisman Trophy of gymnastics Stanford's Dan Gill wins the Heisman Trophy of gymnastics (April 09, 2004)

by Rick Eymer

Stanford senior Dan Gill may not be as well-known as Jim Plunkett, but the two Cardinal athletes share something in common: they were both named the best in their sport.

Plunkett won the 1970 Heisman Trophy, the only Stanford player so honored.

This year, Gill was awarded the Nissen-Emery Award, men's gymnastics' equivalent to the Heisman Trophy.

"To win the award with that strong of a group nominated, that's a real honor," Gill told Inside Gymnastics. "You see the list of winners from the past and it just blows me away."

Gill, a four-time All-American, is the only collegiate athlete on the U.S. National Team. He'll graduate in June with a degree in Biology.

"His achievements have come about by sheer determination," said Stanford coach Thom Glielmi. "He may not have the prototypical body for gymnastics, but he has proven that the mind and heart are more important."

Gill finished second in the NCAA championships in All-Around competition, just .350 less than the champion. He earned All-American honors in floor, pommel horse, vault and horizontal bar.

"My parents (have given me) 17 years of support and caring," Gill said. "Even when I fell six times in a meet they were always there with a smile and a hug. They supported me when I flew halfway across the country to go to Stanford, which turned out to be the best decision of my life."

Gill, one of only nine Stanford gymnasts to win an individual NCAA title, set the all-time national high school record in All-Around at the 2000 High School National Championships while at James W. Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax, Virginia.

"Dan is the consummate team player and a leader by example," said Glielmi.

Gill helped the U.S. team to a third place finish at the 2003 Pam American Games, and has improved his All-Around score in each of his four years at Stanford. In his frshman year he scored a 51.225. This year he scored a 56.125.

The Nissen award was founded in 1966. The trophy itself is inscribed with the phrase: "The true champion seeks excellence physically, mentally, socially and morally."

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