Scott earns respect from coaches, teammates as captain


Mark Capapas

Junior all-around gymnast Shaylah Scott performs a floor routine at Huff Hall in a competition against Iowa on Jan. 31. Scott was recently named team captain for her contributions to the team.

By Jonah Perez, Staff Writer

Junior Shaylah Scott has been on a roll to start the season, as she has taken first place on floor through her first three meets, scoring a 9.875 against Nebraska to open the season, a 9.875 in a tri-meet with Rutgers and Maryland and, most recently, a 9.900 against Iowa.

“I think just paying attention to details and being really intentional with every skill I do at practice. It’s like no way to turn, so every turn I take, I do it with meaning, and I do it with the intention of having as minimal deduction (of points) as possible,” Scott said. “It’s really paying off.”

Hailing from Dallas, Texas, and a part of gymnastics since she was two years old, floor has always come naturally to her, but it was never her best event.

Beam has always been what she really excelled in, so this start surprised her. Scott says a combination of an ultra-focus and happy-go-lucky attitude has played a huge part in her early-season success.

She has always known improvement is possible at all times, and being good at something doesn’t mean to stop trying to get better.

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“She is just a great example for everybody on the team,” said head coach Nadalie Walsh. “She is constantly happy. She’s constantly willing to make changes and do whatever it takes to get better … She’s very consistent, confident, comfortable … and I think that she’s just going to continue to be a rock for us on the events that she’s competing.”

Walsh also praised Scott for her versatility. Their plan for her this season is to slowly increase her workload as the season progresses, as Walsh also wants to use her on vault, adding to her time on beam and floor.

Beam and floor are her bread and butter, but she has been able to add vault to her repertoire. Because of this, she needs more time to prepare herself for competition in the event.

You don’t improve and don’t reach the heights she has reached without a top-class support system. Her teammates and coaches are always pushing her to be better, and they don’t let her get complacent with where she is as a gymnast.

This type of united and family culture can’t be found everywhere, which is a testament to what Walsh has built at Illinois.

“I came in like two or three visits here, and every time it just kind of felt like home,” Scott said. “The girls were always very welcoming … nothing made you feel uncomfortable. Everybody’s always trying to help you, and it’s just like a really familial feeling because family is so centered around what Illinois believes in, and I really enjoy family … It just felt like someplace I needed to be.”

Her leadership has been nurtured and resulted in her being named captain this year. It was humbling to know she was believed in and looked up to as a leader, Scott says.

Walsh attributes this to how comfortable Scott makes people feel. She can make people laugh but also hold the team accountable and focused. She says what needs to be said and earned the respect of her teammates through her character and overall consistency.

“I’m a very happy person; I always try to bring good vibes,” Scott said. “I try to stay in the moment, and so sometimes when teammates are stressing about an exam that they have coming up or a test that they had last week and they don’t know if they did well, or even the next events … I always just try to give them some of my energy… It’s very flowy, it’s constant … so everybody else can have constant happiness around them.”

“When I’m doing school, I’m thinking about school, but when I’m at practice, I’m thinking about practice. Just reminding them to stay in the moment. You can’t control what hasn’t happened, and you can’t control what already has happened.”


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