Scott already finding her place during freshman season

By Sumeya Kalib, Staff Writer

The Illinois women gymnastics team has welcomed a fresh face to beam and floor line up this season in freshman Shaylah Scott. Being the only freshman to have performed so far this season, the Texas native and junior Olympic National Champion has been making strides and showcasing her talent over the recent dual meets.

Her debut was at the Central Michigan Quad Meet with a 9.775 on floor. She then beat her personal best on floor against Maryland on Jan. 19 with a 9.825, earning her third place in the event.

On beam, Scott achieved a career-high with a 9.850 this past weekend against Michigan State, surpassing her 9.825 previous best against Penn State which won her the event title.

According to Scott, going on beam against Penn State was her proudest moment yet. She had to overcome her own doubts of her capabilities to perform well, but it seemingly vanished as soon as she started her routine.

When it comes to improving, Scott sees it as more of a mental challenge. She looks back on her old videos and sees the flaws she can fix in her future routines, because to her, there is no going backward.

Scott has made efforts to stick to the coaches’ advice, according to head coach Nadalie Walsh. She is becoming more comfortable and confident at the meets which has helped improve her scores.

“Shaylah has … steadily been climbing and excelling, and I think she’s really coming into her own level of confidence in herself,” Walsh said. “She’s starting to realize that she can really enjoy performing instead of just going out and performing as a job. She’s doing it as a job and a passion, and I’m really thankful for her.”

Scott started out gymnastics at two years old when her mom put her in with her cousin, who later went on to continue gymnastics at the University of Alabama and recently graduated.

“My mom was kind of following my aunt because they’re sisters and she was like, ‘Oh she does gymnastics, you’re going to do gymnastics, too,’” Scott said.

There was no doubt in Scott’s mind that she wanted to go to the collegiate level. Other gymnasts Haylee Roe and Chayse Capps, an all-around gymnasts from the University of Oklahoma, influenced her to believe finishing her career in college was “worth it.”

Seeing how much Roe loved Illinois whenever she came home made Scott want to experience it for herself.

Competing on the club-level before coming to the University, Scott saw the immediate changes when stepping on to campus and being in the wake of her inaugural season.

“In club, it’s more of an individual sport,” Scott said in December.” So here in college, it’s like you’re not just doing your routine for yourself, you’re doing it for your team also”.

As for the rest of the season and the future, Scott has a lot to gain, according to Walsh. She has the potential to step up and be a leader for future Illini gymnasts who come after her.

“Shaylah has come a very long way in terms of her self-confidence and her sure-footedness, and I think that her gymnastics has gotten cleaner,” Walsh said. “We’re really fortunate to have her in our program because she’s bringing in some great scores and she’s training in vault again, so we’re excited to have her get out there on that event as well.”

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