Gymnast Bridgette Caquatto endured several setbacks even before arriving at Florida.
Two days before the 2011 Pan American Games, Caquatto injured her knee. Surgery revealed that she had chipped her kneecap and suffered muscle tears.
Caquatto then suffered a partial tear in her rotator cuff during the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. She underwent shoulder surgery on May 31, and has spent the fall semester rehabilitating.
Until late November, she was held exclusively to rehab and physical conditioning.
“I would say she was held together by some tape all summer long,” coach Rhonda Faehn said.
Despite regaining strength in her shoulder and knee, Caquatto’s freshman season may be in jeopardy.
Faehn held an individual meeting with Caquatto on Monday to discuss potential eligibility concerns if the freshman continues to participate in exhibitions this season.
According to NCAA rules, a gymnast cannot appear in more than 30 percent of a team’s events.
Although Caquatto has only competed in exhibition routines, those count as an appearance.
Faehn initially wanted Caquatto to perform exhibition on bars and floor during Florida’s 197.3-196.175 win against Georgia on Saturday but ultimately scrapped the plan.
“We chose not to because we’re not really sure just yet,” Faehn said.
“Now that it is in the later part of the season, if she’s to go out and (competes in) exhibition ... she’ll lose a full year of eligibility because of competing in the latter half of the season.”
Junior Mackenzie Caquatto, Bridgette’s sister, joined her sibling in rehab exercises for support. A typical day of rehab involves the sisters taking an 8-mile bike ride and strengthening Bridgette’s fast twitch muscle fibers.
“I can’t believe [Bridgette has] already come as far as she has after her shoulder surgery,” Mackenzie said.
“Usually, after surgery, it takes gymnasts close to nine months to a year to recover, and not even at six months she was starting to do things.”
Bridgette was sidelined from Jan. 4 until Jan. 18 but participated in exhibition against Auburn on Jan. 25 and Arkansas on Feb. 1.
She competed only on bars during Florida’s 197.65-196.025 win against Auburn, scoring a 9.8. In Florida’s 197.575-196.175 win against Arkansas, she scored a 9.85 on bars and a 9.65 on floor.
Though Bridgette could add depth to the Gators’ lineup, Faehn wants to be sure she can make the most of the freshman’s time at Florida.
“I don’t want to risk her losing a whole year, because she is that talented,” Faehn said.
“But at the same time, I want her in there.”