It’s October 10th, 4:00 AM. Jasmine Cawley is sitting in the backseat of her family car surrounded by her four parents. They’ve just embarked on an eight-and-a-half-hour journey from Clermont, Florida to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where Cawley is planning to surprise the Alabama gymnastics team by announcing her commitment to the Crimson Tide in person.
As she mindlessly stares at the view outside the window—her parents taking turns at the wheel and her father capturing videos—she has time to reflect on the long journey that’s now taking her to commit to the No. 10 team in the country, as the No. 3 recruit in the class of 2025.
Originally from Maine, Cawley began her career at the Maine Academy of Gymnastics, where she quickly soared through the levels of the sport. After a successful level 9 season in 2019, she moved to Brandy Johnson’s, in Florida, where she started training and competing as a level 10. Despite some injuries resulting from a growth spurt, Cawley established herself as one of the best gymnasts in her class, posting career highs of 9.900 on vault and 39.025 in the all around. Among her accolades, she was the Nastia Liukin Cup junior bronze medalist in 2022, back-to-back Florida state champion in 2022 and 2023, and Region 8 champion in 2023.
Then, on June 15th, her phone started to ring, kicking off the beginning of her recruiting process. Cawley didn’t know what to expect from it, but as she picked the schools she wished to visit, she had three criteria in mind: her connection with the coaching staff, the team culture, and a Christian community she could become a part of.
She went on official visits to Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, UCLA, and Florida. Although Cawley enjoyed all five of her official visits, Alabama was the one that struck her the most. “Alabama was my first visit and I had nothing to compare it to,” she explained. “But I had an immediate connection with everyone [there]. Throughout the rest of my visits, each school didn’t give me a better feeling than what I felt at Alabama, and after that I kept comparing everything to them.”
When the time came to make the decision, Alabama felt like the obvious choice. “I chose Alabama because of the connection with the coaches and the girls there,” Cawley said. “They were absolutely amazing, and they welcomed me with open arms from the start of my visit. The coaches and even some of the girls continued to stay in touch with me and that meant a lot to me.”
Alabama, moreover, offers a Fellowship of Christian Athletes program, which was one of Cawley’s top criteria for choosing a school. “Faith is a huge part of my life, and I definitely would not be in this position right now with gymnastics if it wasn’t for God who has helped me through the tough days,” Cawley explained. “That is why I’m super excited to join the FCA program when I get to Alabama.”
Cawley is still thinking about all of this when, around midday, she drives into Tuscaloosa, ready to surprise her chosen team with a sign that, in bright crimson letters, says: “I COMMIT.”
The night before, Cawley had a long phone call with head coach Ashley Priess Johnston, who wanted to know whether or not she would join the Crimson Tide. Cawley, however, didn’t want to commit over the phone. Instead, she hung up the call, FaceTimed all four of her parents simultaneously and told them that she had decided to commit to Alabama. In the excitement that followed, they decided to drive all together to Tuscaloosa and surprise the team.
Cawley’s family “is all about capturing surprises and special moments on video,” so the surprise is out there, caught on camera for you to enjoy. You can see Cawley entering the Crimson Tide gym by the back door, holding up her sign. You can see the look of disbelief in the coaches’ eyes, the screams of excitement from her future teammates, the joy, the hugs, the love—the right choice.
“Alabama put a lot of effort into recruiting me and helping me feel comfortable with choosing Bama, so we wanted to return the favor and make my commitment to the coaches and girls special,” Cawley explained. “After the surprise and their reaction, I knew a million percent that I picked the right school and that this would be my new family.”
Article by Talitha Ilacqua