Perfection is always the goal. The only way to achieve it is through time and effort. This applies inside the gym and out.
Alabama gymnastics aims for both — a 10.0 score and a 4.0 grade-point average.
No. 17 Missouri at No. 7 Alabama
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Coleman Coliseum
Records: Alabama 1-2; Missouri 1-1
TV: ESPNU (taped delay Jan. 28 at 9 p.m.)
“We all have these high expectations that we want to get a 4.0 to help out the team in any way and even later on in our career,” Alabama junior Ari Guerra said. “If we just continue to set those expectations, we’ll continue to do well and strive.”
The Crimson Tide earned a 3.8 team GPA in the fall. It wasn’t a fluke, nor was it an offseason spike. More like a norm.
Look at last season. Alabama managed a 3.6 team GPA while advancing to the NCAA Championships. It was the highest mark in SEC gymnastics and at the 2017 NCAA Super Six. All 19 UA gymnasts were named Scholastic All-American. Eleven are on this season’s squad.
There are 245 Crimson Tide members who received the honor since its 1991 inception.
“People think we only recruit 4.0 students,” Alabama coach Dana Duckworth said. “We don’t. We have athletes that are marginally admitted to this program.”
They find success through the support and resources UA provides its athletes.
This isn’t just pretty talk either.
“I was a marginal student,” said Duckworth, who competed at Alabama from 1990-93. “But I learned how to study in college because I had a personal monitor, I had someone that helped me understand how to study for college and then I had to take ownership in doing my job in the classroom.
“Ended up getting a 4.0 one time – first time ever in my life – and realized ‘oh, it is possible.’”
Hello, President’s list.
Six gymnasts on this year’s team got 4.0s last semester: seniors Mackenzie Brannan and Jennie Loeb, junior Abby Armbrecht, sophomores Peyton Ernst and Shea Mahoney and freshman Bailie Key.
These numbers will outlast any individual score posted in a meet. Both are announced anyway. Alabama shares each gymnast’s GPA during introductions.
“It kind of reminds you that you do have to stay on top of it,” Guerra said. “I think having it announced also shows how much effort we do put in as a team and we don’t just care about athletics. It’s more like OK, we’re student athletes. Student, your education comes first because once we’re done with gymnastics, we’re done. You got to use your education to get farther in life.”
There are a variety of majors across the roster, ranging from biology to finance, marketing to psychology and exercise science to communication studies. The list goes on for a grand total of 10 different topics among the 15 gymnasts.
Alabama is proud of its brains. Friday’s home meet against Missouri is Academic Achievement Night. UA gave local elementary schools free-admission vouchers. The crowd should be full of easy-to-mold young minds.
“I was one of those girls as a kid,” Brannan said. “You want to be just like the older girls. You want to be just like the big girls. So it’s important that we really set a good example and we are good role models.”
Inside the gym and out.