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Friday, April 19, 2024

For the UF gymnastics team, travel isn't all business en route to the next meet. There is certainly some leisure to be found.

Whether it's by plane or bus, the gymnasts have racked up some travel stories along with mileage.

From the Southern hospitality in Nashville, Tenn., to the maybe not-so-hospitable confines of Athens, Ga., a season of traveling provides bonding, some stress and some stress-relieving games.

On the way back from the Southeastern Conference Championships this weekend, the team played charades before the plane ride.

"We did the category of animals, and then we did a category of movies," junior Courtney Gladys said. "(Melanie Sinclair) doing the animals was hilarious. She did a hippo, a chicken, a baboon. There were some other ones. It was definitely worth the entertainment."

It's sorely needed entertainment when they're dealing with a three-hour layover for a 30-minute flight like the team did on the flight from Atlanta to Nashville.

"The layovers are probably the worst part of traveling," senior Corey Hartung said. Hartung admitted she's the first one to suggest a game when boredom kicks in, especially on the bus, even if it means being the guinea pig.

"One time I would climb up into the cabin part (of the bus) because everyone's like, 'Corey you'd fit up there,' and I would crawl up and crawl through the cabin," Hartung said. "I get bored, and I can't sit there."

Freshman Amy Ferguson, who has grown used to traveling with the team by now, said she was nervous traveling the first couple of meets.

Used to traveling with her parents and other club gymnasts, the sudden change of traveling with teammates for a dual meet required an adjustment.

"At first I was so nervous on the way there. I was always really quiet," Ferguson said. "But once the first couple away meets came and we got there, you really have so much fun because you bond with the team. It turned into something I definitely look forward to."

With five road meets under her belt, Ferguson now has some road trip stories to tell, including one from the drive back from Athens on March 1.

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"Halfway through, everyone is starting to get cramped up, and we stopped at a gas station, and five or six of us just went outside and had the most ridiculous races - one leg, hopping on one leg, skipping, jumping jacks," Ferguson said. "At that point we were just so tired of sitting on the bus, we had to let it out."

Traveling as an orange-and-blue troupe naturally brings attention, and the airport is no exception.

"Sometimes we get everything but gymnastics," Gladys said. "We'll get, 'Oh are you a golfer, volleyball player?' I'll give them the golfer, but volleyball player? I'm like five-foot here."

GATORS HEADED TO IOWA CITY: No. 6 UF was selected to the NCAA North Central Regional in Iowa City, Iowa, on April 4.

"We were just hoping we wouldn't get sent all the way across the country," UF coach Rhonda Faehn said. "We're happy about Iowa, still fairly close. We've never been there, so I think that'll be something that's new and exciting."

Faehn knew heading into the grouping her team wouldn't be sent to closer sites Raleigh, N.C., or Tuscaloosa, Ala., because the Gators are too closely ranked to some of the other schools in those regions.

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