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TV20 Sitdown: UF Gymnastics Coach Jenny Rowland (Parts 3 & 4)

Morgan Hurd, Leanne Wong among the newcomers to watch this season
Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 11:35 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -The Gator gymnastics team boasts a large roster entering the 2022 season opener on Friday. Even though Florida lost no seniors off last season’s team, there is still a decorated freshman class coming into the program. That’s where TV20 Gator Insider Steve Russell and UF head coach Jenny Rowland pick up their interview series.

(Steve Russell):

“When Gator fans come out, they always like to see the new faces. Tell us about them.”

(Jenny Rowland):

“Wow we have lots of new faces and really exciting faces. We have a JO national all around champion, Sloane Blakely, from Dallas Texas. She’s going to shine so bright, and is going to be a really solid competitor on all four event, you’ll probably see her in he all around from the get-go.”

“Another competitor is world champion team medalist Riley McCusker. She has been on the international stage for many years and everybody should be able to see her compete in the O-Dome very soon, I now a lot of people are excited to see Riley, she just has such a huge heart and a love for the sport that’s contagious, she’s very easy to fall in love with.”

“Leanne Wong, another Olympian who did not get to participate as an alternate, and ended up making the world championship team this past fall. She is a silver medalist all arounder, so coming off a lot of gymnastics internationally, she joined our team and she’s excited to compete in orange and blue.”

“Our next freshman is Morgan Hurd, another international athlete, a world gold medalist in the all around, so we do, we have a stacked class coming in. Morgan has been on the international stage for many years and I know everybody in the world will be excited to see Morgan compete in Orange and Blue.”

And last but not least we have a Floridian, Bri Edwards. Really just a shining star, biggest heart, talented, and a super kind and caring young woman who Gator Nation will be able to see from the get-go, probably competing on vault for us.”

(Steve Russell):

“Last couple of things. We’ve talked before about having all that talent, it still takes leadership and kids leading the team. How is that so far with this group?”

(Jenny Rowland):

So far, it’s been easy for the staff to help guide and facilitate. This team last year did such a great job of that, so it’s a continuation moving into this year. Last year we didn’t lose any athletes so we had relatively a great solid core and a heartbeat coming into the season so I’m very thankful for that.”

(Steve Russell):

“I guess going through COVID has hardened every team. How has your group handled al that adversity?”

(Jenny Rowland):

“It hasn’t been easy. We’ve had highs and lows, but as we say here at Florida, in all kinds of weather we stick together. And it’s just a reminder to each other that we’re here trying to reach the same common goal and the passion and dedication of this team for each other and Gator Nation I think has definitely made it a lot easier.”

(Steve Russell):

“What motivates you as a coach?”

(Jenny Rowland):

“Seeing the pure joy of our student athletes have the time of their lives on the competition floor, and in the gym training with each other, having fun, working together as a team, growing into stronger young women. I get goose bumps, it just elevates from their freshman year to their senior year, I love being a part of their growth.”

(Steve Russell):

“That’s really cool. That growth is going to start January 7th, the Gators open their season with a quad meet at home. Our pleasure to speak with Gator gymnastics coach Jenny Rowland. Jenny thank you.”

(Jenny Rowland):

“Thank you”

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