Last week, the Gators were motivated.
Within an hour of losing to Alabama on Jan. 23, a frustrated Florida team returned to its hotel in Tuscaloosa.
No more than 10 minutes had passed when senior Kytra Hunter sent a group text telling everyone to meet in coach Rhonda Faehn’s room.
There, Hunter led an open-dialogue discussion between all the gymnasts and coaches, trying to determine how they could drastically improve.
"We had tears," Hunter said after Friday night’s victory over Georgia. "It was a little of mixed emotions … being able to sit there with 13 of your sisters and coming to a conclusion of asking each other ‘What do I need to do more?’"
The meeting proved to be effective, leading to what Faehn called the three most spirited training sessions of the season and a convincing performance against Georgia.
And it all started with Hunter, a gymnast whom Faehn considers to be a quiet leader who shows more easily than she says.
Often, while the rest of her teammates stand around talking and cheering as they wait their turn in an event lineup, Hunter stands by herself, alone and undistracted as she heightens her focus for the routine.
But when she steps on the competition floor, every one of her teammates can see the fire and dedication with which she competes.
As a senior, however, Hunter has taken strides to broaden her leadership skills, and Faehn has taken notice.
"Kytra has, I feel - especially this year - kinda stepped out of her comfort zone and has tried to become more of a vocal leader," Faehn said.
"I think that (initiating the meeting) shows, again, that she has grown tremendously, and that it also shows her intense passion and desire."
The question for Faehn now becomes how to maintain that level of desire which the team displayed all last week.
Motivation comes easily after a loss.
But complacency comes just as easily after a win.
Even after their best score of the season, though, Faehn said the gymnasts have already been reviewing video footage from Friday to pinpoint deficiencies they can work on this week.
Another motivating factor is Florida’s impending road trip to No. 8 Arkansas this Friday.
The last time the Gators went on the road, they were unable to cope with the hostile environment, leading to the aforementioned tear-stricken meeting.
This time, they will be looking to prove they can handle the adverse conditions, and Faehn is doing what she can to strengthen their mental toughness.
"Just continued pressure sets," Faehn said about what the team will be doing this week to prepare. "Really putting the athletes under pressure. I always like to speak with them one-on-one, and when we talk about analyzing what their performance was like, what they were thinking about during the performance, what they’re going to be focusing on this next week, they’re very honest about it so it’s good, it’s a good learning process."
But Hunter’s mental toughness needs no strengthening.
She was one of the lone bright spots against Alabama, and immediately after the victory against Georgia, her focus turned to the task ahead.
"We still have a long way to go," Hunter said Friday. "This is just the start."
Follow Graham Hack on Twitter @graham_hack24
Kytra Hunter performs on the uneven parallel bars during Florida's 197.60-196.950 win against Georgia on Friday in the O'Connell Center.