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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

A former UF gymnast spoke out about her experiences with racism during her tenure on the UF gymnastics team on Friday.

Kytra Hunter, who competed as a member of the Gators gym team from 2012-15, wrote on Twitter that she experienced racism from her own teammates. She accused them of using racial slurs and referring to black stereotypes in conversation with her.

“Hearing and reliving those comments ties knots in my stomach,” Hunter wrote.

Hunter’s statement came after another former gymnast, Kennedy Baker, wrote on Twitter June 1 that her teammates called her racist names and asked for her silence.

According to Hunter, then-coach Rhonda Faehn called a team meeting during Hunter’s senior year after her complaints had fallen on “deaf ears.” Hunter said in her post that her teammates did not take the meeting seriously, however, and that very little had changed even after the meeting.

“The racial slurs did not stop,” she wrote. “I couldn’t understand why their inexcusable behavior was okay.”

Hunter’s mother, Kim Esprit, wrote on Facebook that Hunter had requested to transfer because she felt uncomfortable at UF.

UF’s gymnastics team and its current members made statements across social media recently regarding racial equality. Current coach Jenny Rowland also had a meeting with the team over video call to craft a statement regarding the racial protests and Baker’s tweet.

“UF gymnastics has been nothing but a blessing to me since the day I stepped foot on campus. I recognize that there have been problems on past teams,” sophomore Trinity Thomas wrote on Twitter Wednesday. “…we are going to go all-in. This is not a one time thing. We have committed to making a cultural change.”

Rowland and the UF gymnastics Twitter account also made a statement on Twitter Wednesday and wrote a reply to Hunter on her Twitter post.

“I know this was not easy for you,” Rowland wrote. “Please know you are always welcome (with open ears and arms) to share and visit with the Gators any time.”

Follow River on Twitter @riverhwells. Contact him at rwells@alligator.org

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