T-Bird Tribune: Big Fish, Bigger Pond

I thought I would walk in and dominate in college. I was told it was going to be easy. The hardest part was over. I had already earned a Division I scholarship, after all. I was set.

I had never been so wrong.

The first 13 years of my competitive life were all about me. I competed for myself and for the scholarship I was trying to earn. I didn’t think about the talent level of other gymnasts, I was focused on improving myself and perfecting my craft.

When I transitioned to collegiate gymnastics, I quickly learned that I needed to be one of the top six gymnasts in an event to even compete. And if I do compete, I need to nail my chance because if I don’t, I won’t get many more.

There can’t be a “trial and error” mentality. I have to be on my game every time I compete.

In high school, I would have a meet every two weeks. That week off permitted my body to repair and recharge. In college, that luxury is gone. We compete for 13 weeks straight during the season. The nonstop nature of collegiate gymnastics is exhausting.

I found myself getting lost and not knowing who I was as an athlete. It finally clicked when I asked myself: What do I bring to the table that no one else does?

I try to provide leadership and enthusiasm on our team. I want to be the first up to congratulate a teammate on her success and the first to comfort after a mistake. Once I found my reason, I ran with it.

Now I’m a junior, and I still keep that unique reason alive. I use it to be the best version of myself for my team.

Knowing where I am now, I wouldn’t change one struggle. I love being a college athlete. Nothing is more rewarding than looking back and seeing how far I have come.

I am halfway through my college years, but it seems like just yesterday I was living in the dorms wishing my life would go back to the way it was. I am so happy that the student-athlete life is now my normal.

Story by: Maddie Loomis for SUU News
Photo by: SUU Athletics Strategic Communication