Social media surrounds all things gymternet—we read scoring controversies, watch our favorites in training, and keep up with scores and rankings week after week. For the college gymnasts we love, their journey to get to the big stage all started with a bit of attention. And as we enter the era of NIL, social media means more to recruiting and college gymnastics than ever.
For this month’s Recruiting Declassified, I talked to Cadence Gormley, a future Kentucky Wildcat with a big presence on Instagram backing up her incredible skills and “passion for gymnastics.”
Gormley describes the recruiting process, centering around social media, as an exhilarating and encouraging one. Starting in 2017, she started her account with the “hopes of catching the attention of college coaches.” Listing her biggest gymnastics accomplishments, graduation year, and following coaches was the first step in what came to be a full scholarship from Kentucky and a “platform to inspire and help others with similar goals.”
I formed my account after my level 9 season in 2021. I posted my meet videos from Easterns and began recording practice to give coaches an insight into what I was training gearing up for level 10. A major thing that put me over the top was consistent posting. Almost everyday I would post a training video to my Instagram Story. Coaches could tell I was working hard and improving because they saw proof every day. Before even entering into my first level 10 season, my social media attention landed me two gym visits from Florida and Alabama.
When noticing the attention that Gormley started to receive, she decided to broaden the variety of content she was putting out. “I started posting videos of me doing conditioning, stretching, tumbling outside of the gym, and more.” She even started playing around with video editing that led her to making weekly highlight videos and meet compilations. Not only was her content beneficial in showing college coaches her potential, but it also “helped me show my creative side.”
One thing I believe many prospects miss is the personality side of social media. For Gormley, this was expressed through meet vlogs and editing. For myself, it is through pictures with friends and fail videos from time to time. Coaches don’t just want to see the big stuff, they also want to see authenticity inside and outside the gym.
“College coaches know you’re not going to hit every routine perfectly. What they want to see is someone getting back up after a fall and nailing the rest of their routine or meet,” Gormley said. It’s easy to be caught up in the expectation of perfection. That if top schools are reaching those big scores, “I” have to in order to make it there. However, there is more than just perfection to an athlete and to the sport. Behind those top gymnasts are a coachable attitude, willingness to learn, and hours and hours spent on the smallest details.
For the recruiting process, don’t be burdened by the expectation of “perfection” but rather enthralled by the process—the falls and the hits, the wins and the losses. “If you feel scared to post something because you think it’s not good enough, post it,” Gormley said. Coaches are looking for improvement, not perfection.
While Gormley’s Instagram started out for recruiting, it quickly shifted into a page of entertainment and inspiration. She developed the mindset of an outsider in order to understand what posts would help her stand out and inspire young gymnasts. With just a glance at her page, a viral video of her doing multiple pirouettes is pinned at the top, Kentucky blue is proudly showcased with each scroll, and thumbnails of skills midair clutter her page. Scroll to her bio and it’s accomplishments galore. It’s clear why her following is at the top of recruiting prospects and her account is setting her up well for NIL opportunities when the time comes.
However, Gormley says she is “hesitant to start with [NIL] because I don’t know all the rules and limitations yet; I don’t want to jeopardize my eligibility.” For the future, though, she says that being able to use her passion for video editing and creative arts skills in collaborations with brands and companies is an incredible opportunity for college athletes who finally get to make an impact outside of their sport.
The biggest takeaway Gormley notes is to put yourself out there. Post that fail video and that hit routine. Follow those college coaches, share your good and bad experiences, and show your personality. Because all in all, when it comes down to the recruiting process, what you put in is what you will get out.
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Article by Sydney Seabrooks
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