From April 2nd-6th I traveled with my team to Chattanooga, TN for our Nationals Competition, and I never expected to be so inspired by this team, and I’m still so proud and so in awe of these women that I have had the pleasure of competing with and serving as their President. I will never forget the past 4 years that I have spent with this team, and having the ability to be with the team from the beginning to where they are now will always make me tear up.
Our hotel rooms were suite-style, we had a free breakfast buffet, were across the street from the convention center, and we also were flying into 80-degree weather. If that doesn’t feel like the perfect concoction for a great time I’m not sure what else would. But that’s not even close to being the greatest part of this trip for me.
When we showed up for our warmup hour (after 2 flights that day), we got compliments on our new jackets (which I am so proud of getting this season, we sparkle and shine as a team), were courteous of other teams, and did what we had to do. Just knowing that other teams knew who we were not only made me feel like our team was now officially a part of the culture of NAIGC, but that this was all done in 4 years- all the connections, the traveling, recruiting, hardwork, dedication, and sacrifice from so many people over the years. Just walking into the gym for the first time in a single file line, seeing the “Rutgers” logo on our backs- well, I just couldn’t ask for anything more, especially to be among so many equally hardworking teams. I had to take a step back and just stand there. It was a personal moment of reflection and I had a lot of those this past weekend, but they were all beautiful.
On our first day of competition the first session was our “competitive” session. The amount of support pouring from the sidelines from our “open” division team waiting for their turn however, was incredible. One of our girls, who has been completely dedicated to this sport and our team, and only with us for one year, was injured. However, she has been one of the main reasons this season has been so fantastic and why our team has kept their heads up, their toes pointed, and smiles on their faces. Being able to have her with us, with a fabulous decorated hotel chair to use as a make-shift wheelchair, was a blessing, and absolutely a part of the drive of this team. Her “little” surprised her by competing her floor routine in honor of it being her would-have-been last competition. I cried. The team cried. And the judges were confused, but no doubt moved if they figured out what was happening. The amount of love right there in that moment surpassed anything I had experienced in my 4 years at Rutgers, in any aspect of my undergraduate experience. Our competitive session went so well I wanted to cry I was so happy for everyone who competed. There were stuck dismounts, high flying vaults, and sparkles everywhere. In the moment that we huddled around at the end of their competition as a team, it was like we just won gold at the Olympics….. and we didn’t even look at the scores yet.
To Holly and Alexis: You both are going down in history in NAIGC and RUCG for being an inspiration to everyone- coaches, gymnasts, judges, other teams, directors, etc… and especially me. No matter where you go, either one of you, you’re going to make the world smile.
Jumping to my session, I knew I was going to be somewhat emotional. I don’t really cry in front of people, I’m usually the one who keeps things organized, makes sure everyone needs to be where they are supposed to, and just gets things done. I can keep it together when other people are crying, be a shoulder to cry on, and rationalize things. This session changed that (and so did the next day, but that explanation will come later). Beam went as it should, and I almost cried when one of our girls stuck their cartwheel on the beam (it’s her first year ever doing gymnastics). Floor, on the other hand, was an entirely different story. We KILLED IT. We outdid the sass on all of our routines, made the judges smile fore the entirety of our rotation, and after my floor routine I wanted to cry. All I wanted to do, my whole life, was compete a floor routine for Rutgers. I finally did. I pushed through the injuries, sucked it up, and DID IT. That’s the only feeling I ever wanted- performing for a crowd and doing what I loved. I still had vault to do, but that feeling right there… nothing could ever beat it. I made it to finals due to the “mercy rule” for the open teams that just allows one person from each team to go on and since I got the highest score that was me. But my time was done, you know? My body was done, and I was more than satisfied with that routine. I gave up my spot for a first year who probably deserved it more than I did, with the amount of work she had put in this year, and if I could give someone else the experience that gymnastics has given me my whole like, then I was absolutely going to do it. d
I plan on taking everything from this past weekend with me for the rest of my life (and RUCG- but that appreciation post will come closer to graduation).
We came, we conquered, and we sparkled. And we plan on leaving the sparkle everywhere we go, no matter where we end up in the world.