The best college gymnasts in the country, including several former olympians, competed at the NCAA national championships last weekend. The energy in the arena was palpable. The excitement and the roaring cheers only increased on the second night of competition when the six best teams took the floor to battle for the championship.
I oscillated between awe at being on the same floor as many gymnastics celebrities and concentration to capture the best of the meet. I certainly admire the focus and hard work of collegiate gymnasts, and these athletes only increased my respect.
Before me, I sensed and saw a range of emotions. The measured expectation as coaches watched their athletes warm up the skills they’d watched them do every day in the practice gym. Elation as perfect tens were raised on the score wands. Tears held back as seniors realized their retirement from the sport they love. I found a lump forming in my throat as I watched teams cheer for the individual competitors in their rotation as if they’d trained together all year.
And, as with any championship, the tension of one team watching their dreams coalesce in front of them while others steeled themselves against the disappointment of a goal out of grasp.
In the end, one gymnast with an incredible routine clinched the title, after her teammates delivered season-best routines. Their win doesn’t diminish the impressive performances, from-the-gut cheers, and sister-like bonds of all the other gymnasts that performed last weekend.
The photos below are intended to capture the spirit and skill of all those that competed. (p.s. do yourself a favor — watch the videos linked in the post!)
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