Sloan's adjustment to college an eye-opening experience
Published: Friday, January 18, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 7:23 p.m.
With her first two meets as a collegiate gymnast under her belt, former all-around World Champion Bridget Sloan offered a simple assessment of how things are going.
Who: Missouri (0-1, 0-1 SEC) at Florida (1-1, 0-1)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: O'Connell Center
TV: Tape-delay on Sun Sports, Jan. 27 at 9:30 a.m.
“Adapting — that is the key word,” Sloan said. “It has definitely been a learning experience. We've only had two meets, but it was nice to have one home meet and one away meet. They're totally different, and the mindset has to be completely different.”
After drawing big support from the home crowd in her UF debut two weeks ago, Sloan saw the other side of the college coin at LSU last week where a crowd of more than 4,000 cheered the No. 8 Tigers to an upset of third-ranked UF by three-tenths of a point, their first win in the last 10 meetings.
“When we were at LSU, it was just totally different,” Sloan said. “I've never really had a crowd like that. There's really no other way of saying it, but having the crowd against you — I just wasn't quite used to it.”
Sloan suffered her first fall as a Gator on the balance beam, UF's last event of the night.
“It was kind of an eye-opener, you know, I'm not perfect; I do make mistakes,” she said. “The learning experience is key here. If I'm going to have a mistake, I'd rather get it out early.
“The things that I learned over there, I'll definitely take into consideration when I go into future away meets. I know that I still have to work hard no matter what, and the routines will come with practice.”
The scenario is one UF coach Rhonda Faehn has seen play out before.
“When I spoke with Bridget about the weekend, she shared with me that the hardest surprise was that there were people actually cheering for her to do poorly and wanting her to do poorly, which is something gymnasts don't understand coming into college gymnastics,” Faehn said. “When you're in the elite world or even any world gymnastics, everyone out there is supportive because they just want to see the best gymnastics. But when you get into collegiate athletics, it's all about people who are supporting their school. That was an eye-opener for her and definitely something she'll learn from and not let it affect her as we go on throughout the season.”
For Sloan, the first of 30 World all-around champions since 1938 to compete as a college gymnast, it's all part of a growth process.
“It has been so much fun being down here and being part of this team,” she said. “I took a year off from school, so coming back was really another eye-opener for me because I didn't know how to handle the homework and the studying and everything else. I didn't realize how tiring it is. People think student-athletes just have it made, but we have very long days.
“It's very different for me, but it's so much fun, and I couldn't ask for a better team.”
UF (1-1, 0-1), ranked No. 3 (tie), returns to the O'Connell Center for a dual meet with Southeastern Conference newcomer Missouri (0-1, 0-1) tonight at 7.
Missouri assistant coach Louis Robinson Jr., is a former UF assistant under Faehn.
“They have really, really trained aggressively, and their attitude is great,” Faehn said of her team. “We're excited to be back in the O'Dome, especially welcoming Missouri into the SEC and welcoming Louis back to Gainesville as well. It should be a good weekend.”