The University of Georgia gymnastics team will be competing in the NCAA National Championships this weekend in Fort Worth, Texas, and they’re taking a lot of fans with them. The GymDogs held an open practice this week that gave fans who cannot travel one last look at the team before their big competition.
“It helps us,” sophomore Marissa Oakley said. “Especially knowing that we have so many fans coming this weekend. It kind of makes us feel more at home. You really feel the energy from them.”
Georgia coaches said Bulldog fans have bought the most tickets for the national championships, rivaled only by UCLA. The coaches expect the lower bowl to be filled with red and black, which they hope will provide the team with extra energy.
“When you’re interacting with fans, you’re loosening yourself up to go out and compete better,” head coach Courtney Kupets Carter said. “That’s what we’re excited for.”
The GymDogs are coming off their best performance of the season after placing second at regionals with a 198.050. The GymDogs finished behind first-ranked Oklahoma.
Georgia enters this weekend with the most national championships in NCAA history with a total of 10. The GymDogs have also had 20 gymnasts win 42 individual national championships.
The GymDogs are the second-lowest ranked team going into the tournament this weekend. They’ll compete in the evening session during the first round on Friday at 7 p.m. Oakley said she thinks this could be their best performance.
“We’ve been talking about it all year,” Oakley said. “Just slowly climbing up the mountain, peaking at the right time. I really do think we’re peaking at the right time. And, I think we’re going to be even better this weekend.”
Luke Gamble is a senior majoring in journalism at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.