Alabama gymnastics has practiced a stripped-down version of its Coleman Coliseum grand entrance. The gymnasts have gone over running out and stepping onto the circle “A.” Even the introduction music was tested out.
But the best part can’t be simulated: the fans.
“I’m so excited for the freshmen,” Alabama senior Nickie Guerrero said, “because they don’t even know what’s going to happen.”
Don’t forget the fireworks. Those actually haven’t been lit yet either.
There are four new faces on this year’s team — Kylie Dickson, Lexi Graber, Bailie Key and Alonza Klopfer — and they’ll finally get be a part of all the hype on Friday as Alabama hosts Georgia for its home opener.
“This is our moment,” Graber said. “I’m excited to capture it.”
Three of the freshmen already had a moment, but it was on the road. Dickson, Graber and Key were all given opportunities during Alabama’s debut at Michigan. They finally learned what it’s like to compete at the collegiate level.
They also learned what it’s like to lose at the collegiate level.
“It will definitely help us come back a lot stronger,” Graber said. “Our desire to win, you can just see it in everybody at practice. We all want it so bad. So, it’s going to pay off. I think that was a good lesson for us.”
And she means for the whole team.
The Crimson Tide came together the day after its loss. Each gymnast shared her opinion on the meet out loud — what went well, what needs improvement — then also did a self-analysis. It didn’t matter whether or not someone was in the lineup; everyone contributed to this meeting.
“It’s an exciting team,” Alabama coach Dana Duckworth said. “I got a nice feel to the camaraderie they have. They really love each other outside of the gym as much as they do inside the gym. They’re also, I think, getting better and better at being honest with one another of you can do more this or maybe you can do less of this.”
Communication was and still is key.
Routines need to be cleaned up, but that wasn’t a surprise for the first meet. A different takeaway, however, was how to support certain Crimson Tide members before they perform.
“Some people need to be fired up before they go,” Guerrero said. “Some people just need to get calmed down, just tell them to go out there and have fun.”
That’s the emphasis for this meet. Don’t overthink anything. Let success come on its own.
Alabama veterans know Coleman Coliseum is the perfect place for just that, and the show begins 15 minutes before competition.
“This is home,” Guerrero said. “This isn’t somewhere you should get anxious or somewhere you feel uneasy. This is where you thrive.”
Georgia at No. 9 Alabama
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Coleman Coliseum
Records: Alabama 0-1; Georgia 0-0
TV: SEC Network