The Booster Club of the University of Florida Gymnastics Team
Latest News from GGG
Jan. 5, 2014 News:
The Latest from Aileen Saddlemire, GGG President
Jan. 15, 2013 News:
Hello from the Gator Gymnastics Gang booster club.
Not only do we have a great meet Friday when Missouri comes here for its first time as an SEC team, but GGG members get to socialize with the Gator gymnasts after the meet in the football stadium. That's right. GGG members who have paid their dues this year will be able to head over to the Gator Room in the football stadium after Friday's meet and be able to talk with the gymnasts, one-on-one.
Very cool. By the way, if you haven't paid your membership yet, please bring your cash or check to Friday's meet and go to the GGG table at Gate 1 BEFORE the meet starts. If you need an application form to fill out ahead of time, you can print one here: http://www.ronald-dupont.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/GGGMembershipApplication2.pdf
Remember, if you haven't paid your dues, you can't attend the special social function.
Also, GGG members will be able to visit the O'Connell Center this Sunday, Jan. 20, at 3 p.m. and get a special tour of the new UF gymnastics practice facilities. Show up at Gate 4. Even better, the gymnasts will be practicing while you get to tour the new facilities. (The new gymnasium is HUGE.)
By the way, if you want to see some great Gator photos by Erin Long from last week's meet at LSU, visit: http://gatorgymnasticsgang.ning.com/photo. I've attached my favorite photo from that meet. All I can say is, "Don't try that at home. You won't walk again."
There is also a great video about the LSU meet. The video is refreshing because both Coach Rhonda Faehn and Gator gymnast Kytra Hunter talk frankly about the loss to LSU and what they need to do next. You can view the video at: http://gatorgymnasticsgang.ning.com/video/hunter-faehn-talk-about-losing-to-lsu
And, finally, I want to point you to an article that a gymnastics Website wrote about the Gators. The story basically says that the Gators have one of the greatest set of college gymnasts in some time, and the story's author wonders what the Gators will do next after losing to LSU. You can read the article at: http://www.examiner.com/article/florida-vs-lsu-or-why-the-ncaa-gymnastics-season-is-already-surprising?CID=examiner_alerts_article
Enjoy Friday's meet. And give Missouri a big, rousing welcome as they make their first visit here as a fellow SEC team. Perhaps a chant of "SEC! SEC!" would be cool to start as they enter the stadium.
Jan. 5, 2013 News:
Phew! That was a really nice way to open the season last night. Florida had one of its highest opening scores in school history, and that was with the coaches purposely watering down routines so that the gymnasts peak at year's end. It makes you wonder just how much better this team will get.
Okay, there is lots to tell you. First, let me say this upfront. THERE IS NO GYMNASTICS FACILITIES TOUR TOMORROW. The tour of the UF gymnastics training facilities has been moved to 2 p.m. on Jan. 20.
Hey, let's hear it for Ball State. They need to come back every year. They were full of pep and seemed genuinely happy to be in Gainesville. They were actually smiling and playing to the crowd (something that a lot of visiting teams do not do). And despite being what we may label as a "smaller" university, those gymnasts had some big elements. In fact, two girls actually threw Arabian double-fronts (which are one of the most difficult elements you can throw on floor).
And one Ball State gymnast got an impromptu standing ovation when she went from doing the "robot" to dancing "Gangnam style" on floor. It was rockin' awesome and got an immediate response from the Gator fans. Seeing Ball State every year would be fun.
Okay, back to the Gators. I have soooo many links to stories, photos and videos for you. (By the way, if you have trouble with any of these links, simply copy and past them into your browser's address bar.)
First, here is something I am very late in getting to you. Here are the photos to last season's banquet. This one was memorable because the power went out and most of the ceremonies had to be held in the dark. (Thank goodness I had a camera with a giant flash.) You can view the photos from the banquet at:
Here is the link to GatorZone.com's story about last night's meet:
And here is the link to the GatorZone.com photo gallery from the meet:
And this is the link to the Gainesville Sun's story about the meet:
And, finally, if you'd like to see video of the floor routines of Kytra Hunter and Ashanee Dickerson, as well as see post-meet interviews with gymnasts and Coach Faehn, visit:
Just for fun, here is a photo I snapped with my phone camera last night. This shows the hundreds of people waiting in line for the signing party held after the meet. The gymnasts are sitting on the left, signing furiously. Everybody joked that they felt like they were at Disney because the line was a few hundred people deep and was "snaked" to move back and forth. They gymnasts were signing for almost two hours.
Well, that's all for today. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask.
Oct. 19, 2012 News:
To Gator Gymnastics Gang members:
April 8, 2012 News:
To Gator Gymnastics Gang members:
Well, you probably already know this because you were glued to your computer monitors yesterday, but just in case you weren't -- Florida won its Regional competition with a 197.325 and ended up getting the highest score among the 6 regionals held across the country Saturday. This means Florida will be competing at Nationals in two weeks as the #1-ranked team in the country.
When Florida competes at Nationals, the Gator gymnasts will feel like they are at the SEC Championships again. In the same session are UF, Alabama, Georgia and Arkansas, as well as non-SEC teams Oregon State and Ohio State. Florda does not yet know if it will competing in the afternoon or evening session on the first day of Nationals. A coin toss is used to determine that now.
For scoring details about UF's win yesterday, as well as details about the other Nationals qualifiers across the country, visit:
April 7, 2012 News:
April 5, 2012 News:
March 29, 2012 News:
March 27, 2012 News:
March 26, 2012 News:
March 21, 2012 News:
Then UF received the news that gymnast Randy Stageberg is this year’s Gator gymnastics representative for the Southeastern Conference Community Service Team. Stageberg has dedicated more than 88 hours of her time to community service efforts in the past two seasons, according to GatorZone. For more details, visit:
Head Coach Rhonda Faehn held her weekly press conference this week and talked at-length about the team's strategy of trying to build difficulty slowly throughout the year so they wouldn't peak too early. She said this strategy has paid off because the team is getting ready to compete at SECs with a healthy team that also is strong mentally. See her video press conference at:
And, finally, when you are the number one team in the country, you're bound to run into some fans from other teams talking smack about the Gators. Tomorrow, we'll look at one such Website that we're sure must have fired up the Gators when they read what was written about them.
March 19, 2012 News:
To Gator Gymnastics Fans:
Florida's performance Friday helped solidify the team's #1 ranking as the Gators head into the SECs this Saturday. By the way, the SEC Tournament will feature five teams in the Top 10.
March 18, 2012 News:
Nicole Ellis pushes through multiple injuries to be a major part of the team
In her senior season, Nicole Ellis has blossomed into one of Florida’s most consistent performers, and has become a leader in and outside the gym. She is a regular in the Gators’ vault and uneven bars lineup, and it seems her role as the starter in every single bars lineup so far this season was a natural fit. But her fate on the Gators gymnastics team wasn’t always so certain.
Ellis dreamed of being a college gymnast at 10 years old, when she started watching college meet videos at her gymnastics club in Naperville, Ill.
“All of the college girls always looked like they were having so much fun and just loved what they were doing,” she said. “I wanted to love it like they loved it.”
Years of club gymnastics had already taken their toll on Ellis’ body by the time she set foot in Florida’s gym. Ellis had an overuse injury in her hip that caused hip dysplasia, which made her hip less stable and cause her to tear ligaments in her leg. She had surgery before she started college to correct the problem.
“They had to shave down my bone and make it fit better. I spent a long time and many hours in rehab getting back from that because it was a big reconstructive surgery,” Ellis said. “I knew I was going to have to put in a lot of hard work, and I was okay with that because the opportunity to compete for Florida gymnastics was beyond my best imagination.”
She was able to compete in several meets during her freshman year, but near the end of the regular season, Ellis needed surgery on her hip again.
“When I came back my sophomore season, I was probably in the best shape of my life. I had surgery in March, and I had all of summer to rehab. I had all of my skills back when I came back for sophomore year and I felt really confident,” she said.
Just when things were looking up for the sophomore, Ellis fell on the bars and tore a ligament in her elbow. She continued to compete with the tear, but had to have another surgery once the season wrapped.
“I was pretty frustrated that season because I was always getting hurt and it was a hard year for me,” Ellis said. “I had every intention of sticking it out. My heart is in gymnastics, and it always has been.”
Her perseverance has proved worthwhile. Ellis appeared in every single vault and uneven bars lineup for the Gators in 2012, every bars lineup last season, and all but one vault lineup in 2011. She has led off Florida’s bars lineup for each meet of the last two seasons and posted her collegiate bars best of 9.90 earlier this year in the Jan. 27 quad meet. Ellis also earned All-Southeastern Conference honors in 2011 by sharing second on vault at the league championships with a season-best 9.90.
“Every day in preseason training, I felt like I was working toward gaining that spot and being able to have that spot. Nothing is given to anybody. It’s really a big accomplishment of mine and I’m very pleased to have been able to accomplish that and get as far as I have,” Ellis said. “It’s such a special thing to know that my teammates and coaches trust me and have put me in that position. I love being a starter on bars. I know they’re confident in me, and that makes me more confident in myself.”
That leadership translates outside the gym as well. As the second oldest of seven children, Ellis is accustomed to taking on a guiding role.
“My leadership is more everyday leadership, not just necessarily at meets. It comes from my action in the classroom, in practice and throughout the week. I try to have a good attitude every day and not let little things affect how I respond. I feel that is really important,” she said.
It’s that positive attitude that Ellis said has helped her overcome so much adversity throughout her career.
“You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control the outcome,” Ellis said. “You’re going to go through hard times, but those hard times make the good times even better. Success after all that is that much more rewarding.”
March 17, 2012 News:
Elizabeth Mahlich called herself “the person that you can go to just talk to”
In her first three years at Florida, senior All-American Elizabeth Mahlich experienced the uncertainty of going to a school far from home, the thrill of winning a conference championship and the wisdom that came from a season that didn’t live up to expectations. Now in her final season with the Gators, Mahlich has had ample time for reflection on her gymnastics career, and she admits that she has learned a lot after her four seasons.
“I’m really glad I decided to come here. It’s been amazing,” Mahlich said. “I’ve definitely grown up a lot.”
Mahlich came to Gainesville from Mason, Mich., a small town just east of Detroit. She hadn’t really considered going out of state, but ultimately, Florida won her heart over. Still, coming to Gainesville required some adjustments.
“I didn’t really know what to expect. It was very overwhelming knowing that there were a lot of people on the team already from Florida who got to see their families all the time. It was different not being close to everyone I knew and getting used to the different coaches, but it was a good change,” she said.
She said each new team has brought a new learning experience.
“I think all three of us (seniors) would agree that each year has been different. We’ve just been building up to everything now. As we’ve gone through the four years, every team we’ve been on has been stronger and stronger. With this team this year, I’m so blessed to be with everyone,” Mahlich said.
After her uncertainty during her freshman season, Mahlich has worked hard to help the incoming freshmen adjust. Mahlich called herself “the person that you can go to just talk to.”
“I’ve really tried to get to know the freshmen a lot more. They are coming in, having the same experience as everyone else, and they’re all alone. It’s good to try to hang out with them more and get their minds off of being away from home,” she said. “It’s more bonding than we’ve done in the past few years so it’s been a lot of fun.”
Bonding with her teammates taught Mahlich one of her most important life lessons.
“Teamwork is key to success. Working as a team is more important than doing everything individually,” she said.
Balancing her schoolwork between training and traveling to road meets during the season taught her discipline and time management, two traits that she believes will be most useful to her as she moves on to the next stage of her life.
She hopes the next stage will include a few years of nursing school, and then a career as a forensic nurse, inspired by her interest in the show “Law & Order: SVU.” Mahlich is also looking forward to having a closer relationship with her family after she’s finished training for the season.
While she admits that she’ll feel overwhelmed as she runs for one last time out of the Gator tunnel for her Senior Day Meet, Mahlich said she has plenty of things to look forward to.
“I know it will be my last time in the O’Connell Center, but I think it’s going to be a great meet,” she said. “I’m ready to move on with life and have fun now in the real world.”
March 16, 2012 News:
To All Gator Gymnastics Fans:
The address will change to a shorter one in a few weeks, but we couldn't wait anymore. We were bursting at the seams to show off our new way of getting Gator Gymnastics fans connected and talking to one another. Think of the site as a mini-Facebook site just Gator Gymnastics Fans. How cool is that?
March 15, 2012 News:
By Sarah Gibson
There is so much to pack into the next 50 days. Senior Amy Ferguson has that amount of days left as an undergraduate before walking across the Stephen C. O’Connell stage on May 5 to receive her diploma.
But before she becomes a University of Florida graduate, Ferguson still has a few meets left to compete as part of the Gator gymnastics team. As she prepares to perform her crowd-pleasing floor exercise routine one last time in front of the O’Connell Center crowd, Ferguson reflects on her time as a Gator gymnast and shares her future plans.
Ferguson tries not to think about this season as being her last with the Gators, but instead she focuses her attention on enjoying the experience by having fun at each meet. She has even returned to performing her favorite floor routine from her sophomore year.
“This routine is so second nature to me now,” she said. “It allows me to relax and have fun with it and not stress about it since I know it so well.”
With a change in her approach to this season, Ferguson said it has been her favorite because she is more relaxed and confident going into her performances.
“I haven’t let my nerves get to me,” she said. “I’ve listened to the advice of enjoying this experience instead of psyching myself out and feeling the pressure this year. It’s really been about enjoying the experience and the opportunity I’ve been given. I have had the most fun this year because I’ve been the most laid back and most confident in myself. I’ve done this for so long now that I am confident that I can pull through for my team.”
When she was a freshman, Ferguson watched the older gymnasts motivate and rally the team up while she quietly followed their lead. Now as a senior she finds herself stepping into that leadership role.
“As the four years progressed, I’ve found myself becoming a leader for the team and hopefully someone that the other girls can look up to both inside and outside the gym,” she said.
After her fours years on the team, Ferguson said she learned what is most important in order to be successful in the gym.
“I’ve come to understand the dynamics of college gymnastics as the years have gone on,” she said. “I’ve realized what the most important aspects are and what is most important to focus on, which is the team. It is putting all your focus on being a team and having fun. It is not worrying about things you can’t control like scores, other teams and the crowd. We can only control our own performances.”
As she gets closer to concluding this chapter in her life, Ferguson offered her younger teammates some words of advice as they continue their journey with the Gators.
“As a team, I would say stick together. Love and support one another as much as you can. Be a team, first and foremost,” she said. “Second, I would tell them what everyone told me, which is to enjoy the experience. The more fun you have the better you are going to do.”
After graduating this spring with a degree in marketing, Ferguson aspires to work in the fashion industry in a big city. Whether she is doing gymnastics or not in the future, she said it will always have a place in her life.
“Gymnastics has been such a huge part of my life,” she said. “I’m sure I will always be involved with it somehow.”
March 13, 2012 News:
March 12, 2012 News:
March 11, 2012
To my fellow Gator gymnastics fans:
As you’re reading this, I’m guessing it’s Sunday morning and you’re not exactly happy that you lost an hour’s sleep last night due to Daylight Saving Time.
So let me brighten your morning with links to two newspaper articles that I’ve been holding for a few days just so I could send them to you this morning.
The first is a feature story about Jamie Shisler by her hometown paper, The Naples News. Here is the link to the story: http://t.co/TUyonTgg
The second is a feature story about Kytra Hunter by her hometown paper, The Frederick News Post. The rumor is that Kytra flew under the radar in her hometown but that with her success at UF, she’s no longer a secret in Frederick, Maryland. Here is the link to the artcle: http://t.co/RQ7KasDG
And, finally, as you know, Florida plays Utah next Friday. And as you most certainly know, Florida played Nebraska last week. Well, in nice coincidence, Nebraska traveled to Utah this past Friday for a high-scoring, head-to-head battle. Who won? Well, Nebraska pulled off a pretty big upset by beating Utah in Salt Lake City. That rarely happens.
By the way, I had to smile when the official news article on the Huskers’ Website said, “The Huskers, who have now beat three straight top-10 opponents, were brilliant on all four events.” Ummmm, they have not beaten three straight top-10 opponents. They lost to #1-ranked Florida just last week. Ahhh, details.
Read the story at: http://tinyurl.com/7spg4t5
That’s it for today. The new national rankings come out tomorrow. I’ll let you know how the Gators fared during a week in which they didn’t compete.
March 5, 2012 News:
Two great pieces of news:
First, there will be a special multimedia presentation at the Gator Gymnastics Gang meeting tonight (Monday, March 5). I’m not allowed to divulge what it will be about, but it’s something new for the group.
The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at Napalatono’s. If you’d like to eat dinner, be there by 6:15 p.m. For directions to Napalatono’s (plus a look at their menu), visit: http://www.napolatanos.com/
Second, as I’m sure you already know, the Gator gymnastics squad traveled across the country Sunday to Nebraska and came from behind and nailed beam to beat the Cornhuskers in a nail-biter.
To read the local story about the win, visit:
To read the story in the Nebraska newspaper about the Gators’ win, visit:
And if you’re wondering, Florida is still ranked #1 in the country, although Oklahoma is close on the Gators’ heels. You can see the rankings at:
That’s all for today. Keep warm. It’s going to be a cold one.
March 4, 2012 News:
Hello Gator Fans:
As you know, the Gators play in a meet today all the way over at Nebraska. One of the cool things about this meet is that a men’s gymnastics meet will be played at the same time, so the Gator gymnasts are in for a loud, busy and eventful meet.
The meet starts at 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Live scores will be available at:
There is also paid, live video feed scheduled by Nebraska but there is no guarantee you will get to see all or any of the Gator performances. The feed, if you are willing to pay for it, can be found at start time at:
For fun, I’ve attached a photo (below) of Mackenzie Caquatto on beam against Georgia. This was one of many photos taken by Christine Casey for WRUF.
And, finally, don’t forget that the GGG meeting will be held tomorrow (Monday, March 5) at 7 p.m. at Napalatono’s. Get there at 6:15 p.m. if you’d like to order dinner.
Yours truly will be giving a special presentation, complete with a live Internet presentation projected onto a screen. Should be fun.
March 1, 2012 News:
Hello Gator Fans:
Just a few quick notes for you.
If you haven’t heard, Kytra Hunter has been named SEC Gymnast of the Week for her superb performance against Georgia. You can read the news release about the honor at:
Also, don’t forget that the UF at Auburn meet will be broadcast today (Thursday) on CST at 4 p.m. (Gainesville/Ocala Cox cable channel 259).
If you’re wondering what Nebraska is thinking about Florida coming to visit them Sunday, read the article at:
And that’s it for today. I hope you’re all doing well. I’ll see you at the GGG meeting Monday night.
Feb. 28, 2012 News:
Hello Gator fans:
A few things – don’t forget that the GGG meeting is this Monday, March 5, at Napolatano's Restaurant. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. but get there by 6:15 p.m. if you’d like to order dinner.
Also, there will be a special presentation by yours truly about something possibly quite cool for GGG. If you’ve never been to a GGG meeting (open to all members) and need directions or just want to see the menu, visit the restaurant’s Website at: http://www.napolatanos.com
Okay, today I have for you tons of great videos:
Feb. 27, 2012 News:
Feb. 26, 2012 News:
To Gator Gymnastics Gang members:
Wow, there is certainly a lot of gymnastics news out there about the Gators. But before we get to that, I want to talk about the two photos I’ve attached. These are my two favorite photos from across the nation this week.
The first photo actually matters to Gator Nation. This photo is from from the Salt Lake Tribune.
That’s a shot of Utah Head Coach Greg Marsden glaring at a judge. (Utah comes here March 16.) Marsden actually got warned to stop glaring. (I think there is a big team deduction if a coach gets warned a second time.) Keep in mind that Greg is one of the nicest coaches in all of gymnastics. You know he had to be upset over scoring to get that close to the judges. And he had some good reasons. See the article at:
The second photo is of an LSU gymnast throwing what is called a “sheep jump” on beam. This photo is from The Advocate.
Some gymnasts try this move but few actually do it right – and this gymnast is doing it right. This is one of the hardest elements you can throw on beam. The move is rated an “E” – the highest you can go – and when you see a gymnast throw a true sheep jump on beam, it’ll take your breath away. Here is the article to go with the photo:
Okay, as you know, Florida next travels to Nebraska. Well, Nebraska scored a 197.00 on the road this week against Arkansas. That’s a huge road score. For Gator Coach Rhonda Faehn, she will have to start playing chessmaster this week. Does she have the “A” team perform in Nebraska order to impress the judges from that part of the country and theoretically help the team at nationals because some of those judges will be there? Or does she rest gymnasts on such a far, far-away road trip? Here is the article about Nebraska’s win:
Okay, for those of you are really into the mechanics of gymnastics and which gymnast is throwing what elements, check out this blogger I found who wrote about the UF/Georgia meet. She gets really, really detailed about each routine. (Make sure to click the word “Next” at the bottom of each page.)
Phew! On a final note, remember how Marissa King held her stuck landing on beam for an extra long time? Well, a Gatorzone.com writer noticed as well and wrote a pretty cool story about it. You can read it here:
February 25, 2012 News:
To Gator Gymnastics Gang members:
How about that meet last night?! I remember the days when Georgia would come into the O’Connell Center and dominate the Gators. I remember Georgia fans even bringing the ends of brooms to show that they were “sweeping” us on every event.
But last night was special, indeed. I hope I’m not jinxing anything, but this may very well be the most talented group of Gators in Florida gymnastics history.
Okay, I have a ton of links for you. For me, this first link is the most interesting. A traveling professional photographer was at the meet, and she took a ton of photos. Here is the cool part. You can click on the purple “see your book” button and actually get an inexpensive picture book of the meet. You can choose soft or hard cover, even what photos you want in it. How cool is that? Try it out just for fun. (And, no, we don’t get any money from it. I just thought it was cool.) Here is the link:
Here is the link to the Gainesville Sun article about the meet:
And here is the story that ran in the Athens, Ga. newspaper:
Here are photos taken by the people at University of Florida’s GatorZone:
And, finally, here are some cool videos: