Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Tuesday, June 25, 2024
<p>Gators freshman gymnast Rachel Spicer skipped her final semester of high school to enroll in UF at age 17. She posted career bests on beam (9.875) and vault (9.85) Friday against Auburn.</p>

Gators freshman gymnast Rachel Spicer skipped her final semester of high school to enroll in UF at age 17. She posted career bests on beam (9.875) and vault (9.85) Friday against Auburn.

While most of the Gators practiced their routines with the coaching staff last fall, Rachel Spicer had one less semester to prepare for the upcoming season.

Spicer, a 17-year-old from Texas, was one of three freshmen to join the UF gymnastics team last December.

She signed her National Letter of Intent with Florida in November, but elected to graduate early from Marcus High in Flower Mound, Texas, to enroll for the  spring semester.

“Here I don’t really notice my age and being young because everyone is so close,” said Spicer, who turns 18 in June. “Sometimes I take an advantage from that because they have so many more experiences than me, and they can help me in that aspect.”

Spicer joined the team on Dec. 26 and saw action 11 days later in all four events during UF’s season opener against North Carolina State.

In her debut, Spicer scored 9.75 on balance beam, 9.725 on floor exercise, 9.7 on vault and a 9.65 on an uneven bars exhibition.

“They had to have at least trusted me a little bit because I got to compete in all of the events at my first meet,” Spicer said. “They just believed in me, even though I hadn’t been here very long.”

Spicer entered UF with experience as a member of the Junior Olympic National team and Metroplex Gymnastics, her elite-level club.

Still, it took her a couple of weeks to get used to the physically draining pace of collegiate gymnastics.  

“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is going to be so hard,’” Spicer said. “But I think for being so young, I’ve done a pretty good job just figuring out myself how to do things.”

Throughout the remainder of January, Spicer gradually saw less action than she did against the Wolfpack due to a sore calf.

But in the past two meets, Spicer has been a big contributor for the Gators, competing in six events and one exhibition.

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Alligator delivered to your inbox

Against LSU on Feb. 10, she tallied a 9.85 on floor and beam, and she added a 9.8 on vault.

Last weekend at Auburn, Spicer struggled on floor (9.75) due to a strained groin muscle, but still managed to record career bests on beam (9.875) and vault (9.85).

“She came up just a little bit short on her final tumbling pass on floor,” coach Rhonda Faehn said. “But the way she performed, the way she competed — she stuck her vault again and her beam, just no wobbles. Knowing that, doing a really limited number, she did a great job being out there [last Friday] competing consistently.”

Spicer said she hopes to compete in at least three events when No. 1 Florida hosts No. 3 Georgia to close out its Southeastern Conference slate Friday night.

“All of my hard work started to pay off [last Friday],” Spicer said. “But I just need to work on my endurance and I’ll be back and ready.”

Gators freshman gymnast Rachel Spicer skipped her final semester of high school to enroll in UF at age 17. She posted career bests on beam (9.875) and vault (9.85) Friday against Auburn.

Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Independent Florida Alligator has been independent of the university since 1971, your donation today could help #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.