Bridget Sloan had rarely been rooted against before arriving at Florida.
But in front of a Pete Maravich Assembly Center crowd of 4,074 on Jan. 11 in Baton Rouge, La., Sloan was booed for the first time in her gymnastics career.
It was a culture shock for the former Olympian who has competed on some of the world’s biggest stages in gymnastics. She was taken aback by the unwelcome response.
Sloan and All-American Marissa King had uncharacteristic missteps on beam and forced Florida to count a fall toward its final beam total of 48.775.
Sloan was rattled by the crowd noise.
“That was her first experience, and we have to give her that,” coach Rhonda Faehn said of Sloan. “It was her first time ever competing on the road in college, and it is quite a bit different than anywhere she’s been used to.”
But against No. 9 Georgia on Saturday, Sloan did not seem bothered by the Stegeman Coliseum crowd.
She looked the part of a veteran gymnast.
Sloan claimed her third all-around title Saturday. She became just the second Gator freshman in program history to earn three wins. All-America Kytra Hunter was the first to do it in 2012.
Sloan matched her highest bars routine with a 9.95, and her 39.6 was her highest all-around of the year.
Against Arkansas two weeks earlier, she set a career-high on balance beam with a score of 9.925. She also claimed her first all-around title with a previous season-high of 39.55.
Sloan’s progression during her freshman campaign has aided an already deep Florida roster and kept her light during competition.
“I am honestly having the time of my life,” Sloan said. “It has been such a great experience for me, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I love competing, and I love performing. I get to do those things every weekend.”
Freshman Bridget Sloan performs her bar routine during Florida's 198.10-196.85 win against Alabama on Feb. 8 in the O'Connell Center. Sloan won the all-around title at the SEC Championship meet on Saturday.