Senior Snapshot: Orley Szmuch

Published: Tuesday, January 25, 2005 at 12:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 25, 2005 at 12:12 p.m.

For UF gymnastics senior Orley Szmuch, pronounced like Smooch, the thought of having to choose a favorite moment competing as a Gator is a little saddening.

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Orley Szmuch is a four-time All-American athlete and advanced to the 2004 NCAA balance beam final and placed tenth with a 9.75.

Photo By University Athletic Association

"That makes me a little teary eyed," she said, recalling a meet in Utah where she was able to perform for her parents and a coach that she had grown very close to, Janine Thompson. Szmuch is originally from Los Angeles.

For Szmuch, the 2005 gymnastics season will end a career that has been long and notable. She will continue to attend classes as a regular student for a fifth year before graduating in 2006.

"It's a little scary and a little exciting," Szmuch said. "My body is probably going to be very happy. I'm looking forward to just doing school which is going to be a big transition for me because my whole life I've only known school and gymnastics. I'm going to definitely get a job I think, to keep myself busy."

The past four years at UF have been anything but relaxing for Szmuch and the other members of the team.

Between practices, competitions, class and other commitments, the athletes are kept very busy. Szmuch has also found the time to help out in the community.

As an executive member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Szmuch feels that being involved has also helped her.

"It's helped me cope with the fact that I'm not just a gymnast," Szmuch said. "I've been doing gymnastics since I was six and I thought I was so one-dimensional and one-sided and coming here and knowing that there are so many people like me, that I can offer other characteristics and other attributes besides gymnastics really helped me learn that there was more to life and it's going to help me cope with the fact that I'm going to be done."

Throughout her tenure at UF, Szmuch has earned some serious gymnastics accolades and the recognition from the coaching staff as a positive role model and influence for the team.

Szmuch is a four-time All-American athlete. She advanced to the 2004 NCAA balance beam final and placed tenth with a 9.75. She also received the UF Office of Student Life Community Service Award, given to the athlete that does the most community work during a school year.

In 2003, Szmuch earned her fifth all-around title with a 39.725, the third-highest total in UF history.

UF Head Coach Rhonda Faehn knows the athletic and leadership potential that Szmuch brings to the team.

"Orley is one of our top all-arounders," Faehn said. "She brings a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and excitement, which she is definitely known for as a crowd favorite. She has so much passion and that is wonderful to have."

After graduation, Szmuch hopes to either go to graduate school or try motivational speaking.

"Motivational speaking is something I would definitely be interested in because I think that gymnastics has taught me so much about how to be positive about everything in life."

But before graduation, in her last year at UF, Szmuch is looking forward to just being a student and maybe having some time to sit back and watch a movie, admittedly her favorite relaxation activity.

"I have so many favorites," Szumch said. "I like anything with Jim Carey, he's my favorite actor."

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