Dear NCAA gymnastics seniors,
I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to come up with words to say, and it’s difficult. I’m sure none of you expected your careers to end the way they did. The class of 2020 will always hold a special place in my heart, as it’s the first class I’ve watched since the beginning.
When I watched my first real-time NCAA gymnastics meets in January of 2017, I had no idea how much this sport would mean to me three years later, and this class has been a big part of that. It’s been an honor seeing everyone’s growth over the last four seasons, and it’s heartbreaking to see it all come to an end so quickly and unexpectedly.
I wanted to write this to thank each one of you for what you’ve done for the sport of gymnastics. While there isn’t room to thank everyone personally, here are a few seniors who have made a strong impact on me personally.
To Sophia Hyderally, thank you for blessing us all with your beautiful artistry and putting Alaska gymnastics on the map.
To Khazia Hislop, thank you for showing everyone that you don’t have to go to a top 10 school to be a star.
To Maggie Nichols, thank you for your dedication to the sport, as well as your courage to speak out. Your impact on the sport of gymnastics will be remembered for years to come.
To Mollie Korth, you will go down as one of the greatest gymnasts Kentucky has ever seen. Thank you for all you have done to put your team in the national spotlight. I wish I could have seen you compete one last time this weekend like I had planned.
To Sabrina Vega, you’re the gymnast I’ve been following the longest. Thank you for allowing us to watch you on your journey from world champion to NCAA star.
To the Minnesota seniors: Paige Williams, Ivy Lu, Kristen Quaglia, Mary Korlin-Downs and Casey Betts. From nearly missing regionals your freshman year to becoming national contenders and breaking records your senior year, your growth has been amazing to watch.
To the Michigan seniors: Maddy Osman, Lexi Funk, Sam Javanbakt, Maggie O’Hara, Sam Roy and Polina Shchennikova. Thank you for your showing us your perseverance through injury and hardship.
To the Florida seniors: Amelia Hundley, Rachel Gowey, Maegan Chant and Sierra Alexander. Your team was the one that made me fall in love with NCAA in the first place. Thank you for your dedication to the program, even though your last two seasons didn’t go as planned. I will always be grateful that I was able to be there for your last meet.
Finally, to the Pitt seniors: Rachel Dugan, Deven Herbine, Alecia Petrikis and Michaela Burton. Thank you for allowing me to cover your meets over the last two seasons and letting me be a small part of your journey. Pitt gymnastics has done amazing things, and you have left a legacy that will not be forgotten. The future of the program is bright.
These are just some of the incredible seniors who I want to thank. Know that the effect you all have had over the past four years will not be forgotten, no matter which team you come from.
Letter by Mary Emma Burton