See Erin Macadaeg on the balance beam, a rock-solid piece of artistry suitable for turning it into a portrait and hanging it in a frame.
Then see Erin Macadaeg slip out of her role as an LSU gymnast, slip the strap of a still camera around her neck and spend the rest of the meet pursuing her other passion: photography.
The artist inside the athlete is always seeking to find its outlet for this senior from Redwood City, California. Sometimes it’s through gymnastics. Sometimes it’s through photography. Sometimes it's through graphic arts.
Have you happened to come across a guest services “Need help?” sign when visiting the Pete Maravich Assembly Center?
“I made that,” Macadaeg said proudly. She did so last summer when she interned with the LSU athletic department’s graphic services office.
“I have a fine arts minor with my major in marketing,” said Macadaeg, who is applying for LSU’s MBA program after she graduates. “I like to draw, experiment with anything artistic.”
Photography, though, holds a special allure.
“It’s always been a hobby of mine since I was little,” said Macadaeg, who stands 4-foot-9, small even by gymnastics standards. “I love to pick up a camera and tack pictures. Even when I was a club gymnast back home, my friend had a photo business and I’d be his assistant. Or a company at home did gymnastics events and I would work for them a little bit.”
After she leads off on beam — usually her only event — Macadaeg will grab a spare camera from LSU athletic department photographer Chris Parent, then start snapping shots of the rest of her teammates on beam and floor.
“It balances out my mindset between when I’m competing,” Macadaeg said of photography. “It calms me down and helps me focus in a different way.”
Whatever helps Macadaeg excel at her sport, it works. She has become a cornerstone for LSU on beam, the high wire act of women’s gymnastics performed on a 4-inch-wide apparatus perched 4 feet off the floor.
Macadaeg has been LSU’s leadoff performer on beam for three seasons now. In that time she has posted 16 scores of 9.90 or better and 17 more scores of 9.80 or better. In a nerve-wracking event that can often mark the difference between winning or losing if a team has to count a fall, Macadaeg always delivers.
On Sunday against Auburn, LSU’s Sarah Finnegan and Myia Hambrick finished the meet with their team’s first perfect 10.0 scores on floor. The rotation before Macadaeg was virtually as flawless, leading off with a 9.95 on beam to tie her career high in the event.
“I think Erin Macadaeg led off with a 10,” LSU coach D-D Breaux said after the meet, 198.100-195.625 victory that wrapped up a second straight undefeated Southeastern Conference regular-season schedule. “The thing that keeps it from being a 10 is she’s first in the lineup.”
By that, Breaux means judges often like to hold back their highest scores for the rest of the six-person lineup. She was asked again if she ever thinks of moving Macadaeg lower in the lineup.
“No, because she’s so consistent going first,” Breaux explained. “It has a calming affect on our team. She has this ‘watch me’ attitude and she just gets up there and does her job. Tonight it was the only event she did and she did it very well.”
Breaux is planning to rest some of her other gymnasts in LSU’s last two regular-season meets. The No. 2-ranked Tigers (13-1, 7-0 SEC) visit No. 24 North Carolina State at 6 p.m. Friday (the meet will stream live on WatchESPN.com) and wrap up the regular season at home March 17 against Arizona.
Though Macadaeg has built a reputation as a beam specialist, she continues to train in all four events and hopes she will be able to crack the lineup in something besides beam — particularly floor exercise.
“This week I started to get ready on floor for senior night,” Macadaeg said, referring to the Arizona meet. “Vault has been pretty good. I’ve been in the alternate spot there.
“I always tell the coaches I’m prepared if they need me to go in.”
And if they need a photo of one of Macadaeg’s teammates, she’s ready for that, too.
Team SEC Pct. Overall Pct. RQS
#LSU 7-0 1.000 13-1 .929 197.715
Florida 5-2 .714 7-2 .778 197.325
Alabama 5-2 .714 6-3 .667 197.005
Kentucky 3-4 .429 7-4 .636 196.715
Georgia 3-4 .429 3-8 .273 196.310
Missouri 2-5 .286 6-6 .500 196.240
Arkansas 2-5 .286 3-8 .273 196.660
Auburn 1-6 .143 6-8 .429 196.340
Kentucky 196.850, Ohio State 195.725
Nebraska 196.700, Stanford 195.925, Illinois 195.900, Georgia 195.825
Arkansas 197.275, Arizona 196.125
Missouri 196.925, Florida 196.700
Alabama 197.525, North Carolina 194.975
LSU 198.100, Auburn 195.625
LSU at N.C. State, 6 p.m.
Nebraska at Florida, 5:45 p.m.
Missouri, Iowa at Iowa State, 6:30 p.m.
Arkansas at Oklahoma, 6:45 p.m.
*Alabama at Auburn, 7 p.m.
Boise State at Georgia, 3 p.m.
Kentucky, Brown, Yale at New Hampshire, noon
#-Clinched regular-season title
*-Does not count in SEC standings; All times Central