It’s Saturday night in downtown Milwaukee, and the Simone Biles “Gold Over America Tour” (GOAT) show is about to begin at the Fiserv Forum. As the arena darkens, the star gymnasts are introduced, the jumbo screen blaring countdown graphics to the song “Wings” by Little Mix.
The announcer introduces one gymnast with the outsized confidence of an Olympian, except her fame has come from college gymnastics. She’s Denver gymnast Lynnzee Brown. The Pioneers’ fan-favorite is part of the tour as a performer and understudy, showcasing her dynamic skills and breezy personality. The GOAT tour is one big dance party, and Brown is there for it.
One of the most decorated gymnastics in Denver history, Brown was the 2019 NCAA floor champion, making her the team’s second-ever to win a national title. During 2021, after a torn Achilles and a canceled season in 2020, she returned to place third on floor in her semifinal at nationals.
The 35-city, seven-week tour is an amped-up version of an NCAA meet. With eight to 10 costume changes, it includes everything from high energy tumbling from Biles and her Olympic teammates to show-stopping sets from UCLA alum Nia Dennis and Katelyn Ohashi.
However, the marquee cast doesn’t intimidate Brown. On tour, she showcases her signature double layout, delivering her trademark execution and amplitude. In addition to her tumbling, the show includes dance paired with gymnastics to enhance the gymnastics experience.
In an email interview with College Gym News, Brown shared some secrets for preparing for the nightly show and balancing her time, all while pursuing a graduate degree.
Brown is known for her skills in all events, particularly floor. While she brings her usual energy and high-powered skills to the “GOAT” tour, Brown insists this is a new world entirely, requiring a different mindset. She says that all of the performers have come together to create a unique spark.
Brown learned she was chosen as an understudy after getting a last-minute call from Valorie Kondos Field inviting her to participate in the tour. She and a couple of other dancers flew out early to help stage the choreography paired with gymnastics.
As an understudy, Brown is responsible for learning many different roles. However, she remains unfazed at the responsibility, saying she loves to dance, so it hasn’t been too challenging.
A typical night begins with preparation. “There is trust that the cast will prepare, as we need to be ready to perform,” Brown said.
While there’s not much structure until a few hours before the show, Brown says some people use the warm-up time to lead creative conditioning circuits and workouts, and others prefer to do their own thing—but it’s not set. When the doors open an hour before the show, the performers take time to fuel, stretch and relax.
Although the tour puts Brown in a “performance” mindset (as opposed to a competition one), she doesn’t see much changing for the 2022 season, with some refining in how she presents dance after having borderline performance training. As she returns for her fifth year at Denver in 2022, Brown is wistful.
“I have a greater appreciation for my team and the experiences that I get to have with them because there are so few left,” she said.
In the past, Brown has mentioned the possibility of competing to represent Haiti in Paris in 2024. The past several months of being around the tour elites have given her insight into that world.
“Watching from the outside growing up has given a lot of insight into what it’s like to compete at the highest level,” Brown wrote. “I’d say [the elites] are inspiring more than anything, not just as athletes but as people. I was happily surprised by how grounded and humble everyone is, but more importantly, they are great people first.”
Brown is now a graduate student pursuing her master’s in communication management, emphasizing user experience strategy. Asked how she’s balancing her graduate coursework with the rigors of being on tour, Brown seemed confident about the academic year.
Brown says she’s surprised at the amount of free time in the morning and early afternoon to get her homework done. While she admits that school is difficult, she wouldn’t expect anything less. She sees the extra time as a plus, but using that time comes at the price of enjoying the experience with cast members.
“Like the rest of things in life, you have to find a balance, so I usually use the off days or pick a morning to participate in sightseeing or group meals,” Brown said.
As she enters the last week of the tour, Brown appreciates the once-in-a-lifetime experience before returning to Denver.
“All of the dancers and gymnasts here are so amazing and are going after and accomplishing big things. I feel like this has shown me a glimpse of what the real world is like.”
Brown adds that being at college has been a needed space for her to learn things about herself. “I feel more prepared rather than scared for gymnastics potentially to be over after this year, so I want to take it in. Being at the University of Denver has been great, and it has given me so many opportunities so I can go out and do big things, too.”
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Article by Kelly Feng
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