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TV20 Sitdown: UF Gymnastics Coach Jenny Rowland (Parts 1 & 2)

Florida has an abundance of talent and experience leading into the 2022 season
Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 11:35 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -The turn of the calendar coincides with the dawn of a new Florida Gator season. The UF gymnastics team starts its season on Friday, with a quad meet against Rutgers, Illinois State, and Texas Woman’s University. It’s a sport that fans go heads over heels for, and to get you primed for the 2022 season, TV20 presents segments one and two of a four-part interview series with UF head coach Jenny Rowland. Gator Insider Steve Russell does the honors.

(Steve Russell):

“The Gator gymnastics team opens its new season at home with a quad meet, and here to talk about her team is the Gator coach Jenny Rowland, Jenny welcome. Let’s start with that quad meet, you don’t see many of those anymore, first one of the year, how did that come about?”

(Jenny Rowland):

“Actually this was a non-conference opening for us and we had several teams up north reach out that wanted to experience gymnastics in the south, have a little warm weather, and experience the environment and the atmosphere. I didn’t want to say no to anybody, so I said yes to everybody so we have three teams coming in, and really excited to have them in Gainesville.”

(Steve Russell):

“This is your largest team ever, your biggest team. So a lot of competition for some spots, right?”

(Jenny Rowland):

“Absolutely, it makes it a lot more competitive in the gym. Really, their competitive nature comes out on a daily basis, everybody wants to compete in the O’Dome in front of Gator Nation so it just elevates the focus and intensity of practices and creates a good environment.”

(Steve Russell):

“As you get set to open the regular season, what are you trying to accomplish between now and then?”

(Jenny Rowland):

“Always first and foremost keep everyone healthy. It’s a very long season, it’s a marathon and not a sprint, and at the beginning of the season it’s important to start out on a high note but knowing we have to continue to get better throughout the season, we don’t want to peak at the beginning of the season, so making sure everybody is healthy, everybody is confident, the team works well together, being confident in lineups and really just getting out there and getting some jitters out, and enjoy an experience, what a crowd is like again, and really have a great time.”

(Steve Russell):

“Speaking of that, your crowds have been phenomenal. This sport is really, really popular. Why is that?

(Jenny Rowland):

“If you haven’t come to a gymnastics experience, it’s something that’s captivating. As soon as you come one time, I’d say typically you’re going to be hooked. If you any knowledge or appreciation for athletics in general, when you watch these young women compete, their athleticism, their grace, their talent, and the time it takes to get to the level that they are here, it’s really captivating and inspiring, so I think for all ages of all people, it’s a sport everybody can enjoy even if they don’t understand all the rules.”

(Steve Russell):

“You have a really good schedule. Obviously on that night you want to beat that team, but you’ve said it’s not a sprint, it’s marathon, how do you balance the two?”

(Jenny Rowland):

“It’s challenging, and for our athletes want to give their best every time, nobody wants to rest, everybody wants to compete every meet, so really it’s an interesting conversation we have as a team and making sure all of our athletes are ready to compete when their name is called. That allows everybody to compete and that allows those players who would be in every week to rest, and allow teammates an opportunity to compete in front of Gator Nation.”

(Steve Russell):

“You’re going to be on television a lot, but one of the highlights is a nationally televised meet on national television, first time ever, that’s got to be a pretty cool thing.”

(Jenny Rowland):

“It’s awesome, first time a dual NCAA gymnastics competition will be on ABC, on January 16.”

(Steve Russell):

“What does that mean for the sport?”

(Jenny Rowland):

“Really it just shows the growth and what the popularity of what this sport has become, I think NCAA gymnastics has highlighted our sport in such a positive way, you can see the moments of these athletes of pure joy, of working together as a team, and it’s something in our sport you haven’t typically seen up until they become NCAA athletes.”

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