“It brings tears to my eyes”: University of Florida’s first gymnast reflects back on 50 years of women’s sports

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 11:46 AM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - 50 years of women’s athletics at the University of Florida will be celebrated kicking off this weekend.

Over the last five decades, 165 national or conference championships have been claimed by more than 2,700 female student-athletes. On that foundation is 70-year-old Nancy Thayer, who was on the first UF gymnastics team in 1972.

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“The athletic association was all male and we really had to push our way in. It was an uphill battle and you see where it’s gone,” said Thayer.

From the acceptance of women in sports to uniforms, equipment, and skill level, Thayer said it’s a whole new world of sports.

“It’s amazing. It brings tears to my eyes,” said Thayer. “Honestly when I walk into an arena like that and see where the program has gone it makes me teary eyes it really does.”

Thayer will be honored at Saturday’s home game against Tennessee where she will be one of the three Miss Two Bits. Although she’s been off the mat for decades now, she said she still has some tricks up her sleeve.

“Yes, I am preparing something special,” Thayer added. “Never in my life did I expect that phone call,” said Thayer.

The 50th anniversary of women’s athletics will continue to be celebrated throughout the academic year.

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