Alicia Boren

Senior gymnast Alicia Boren has competed in three "Link to Pink" meets during her time at UF. "Take a chance and enjoy competing for someone else...take a second to go speak to them and thank them," she said.

The Gators’ gymnastics team may be competing in a regular season meet against Auburn on Friday, but there’s nothing regular about it.

It’s the UF gymnastics squad’s 13th annual “Link to Pink” meet, an event that shows support for breast cancer awareness. The team will don pink leotards for the meet against the Tigers as well as give out pink T-shirts and posters.

Last year’s "Link to Pink" meet, a 197.725-196.875 winning effort against Arkansas, ended on a sour note when senior Kennedy Baker tore her Achilles, ending her career at Florida. The Gators hope to bounce back from their defeat against the No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners when they take on the Tigers this Friday.

“It’s a really special evening for this team,” coach Jenny Rowland said. “Knowing that there are a lot of survivors close to these young women’s hearts… it’s always great to go out and compete for something bigger than themselves.”

While UF’s established veterans are used to the atmosphere of the annual event, Friday’s meet will be the first  for the six freshmen on Florida’s roster.

“(The upperclassman) always say it’s a fun meet,” freshman Trinity Thomas said. “I’ve done multiple things for pink, like pink meets and Unite for HER in the past: I love doing it.”

Thomas, who was named SEC Freshman of the Week for her efforts against the Sooners, is looking forward to a number of traditions that come with the team’s annual meet.

“I’m excited to be in pink,” Thomas said. “I’m excited because I know some survivors of breast cancer, and I know how important it is for them.”

The meet is particularly special to senior Alicia Boren, whose aunt, Kathy, is a breast cancer survivor. It’ll be her second "Link to Pink" meet cheering on her niece.

“She means the world to me,” Boren said of her aunt. “She’s so much fun. She came last year, and it was her first time.”

Boren is no stranger to the "Link to Pink" event. She’s competed in three meets, all of which were victories, and she had some words of wisdom for the freshmen who are wearing pink for the first time on Friday.

“We’re just kinda telling them to do what they do in every other meet,” Boren said. “But take a chance and enjoy competing for someone else… take a second to go speak to them and thank them.”

Follow River Wells on Twitter @riverhwells and contact him at [email protected].

River Wells is a sports writer for the Alligator and covers the University of Florida women’s tennis team. He has previously covered UF swimming and diving. He has worked at the paper since Fall 2017.