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Alaina Johnson earned three All-America honors in 2011 as a freshman

Friday January 27, 2012Alaina Johnson: Finding the Fun in Gymnastics Fuels her Performance

Gainesville, Fla.

Alaina Johnson earned three All-America honors in 2011 as a freshman

By Mara Rudolph, UF Communications


Theres a special place on the wall of the Ted Crom Gymnastics Studio reserved for Alaina Johnson. As a three-time All-American, the sophomore gymnast is entitled to her picture on the wall of NCAA All-Americans alongside other Gator greats. When it came time to pick her photo, Johnson knew exactly which one to choose.


Its a picture from one of my floor routines last year. Im doing the Gator chomp and theres a big smile on my face. It reminds me of how much fun I had last year, she said.


For Johnson, gymnastics has always been more about having fun than training to be the best.


When I was younger, I didnt really take the meets seriously because when youre young its more about just going out there and having fun, she said. I dont remember any major competitions, but I know that I always had fun doing it. I couldnt wait to go to practice and I loved my coaches and the girls that I was with.


Johnsons success at meets was just a bonus for her. The 2008 and 2010 Texas Gymnast of the Year competed at the elite level, earned a spot on the 2008-09 and 2009-10 U.S. Senior National teams, and qualified for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.


My favorite part of elite was learning new skills and being able to perform the new skills during competitions. It was very hard, and I had many days where I was still trying to decide if I wanted to do elite or go back to Level 10, but Im glad that I did elite because I learned so much, Johnson said. I think I have become a stronger person because of what I went through.


Collegiate gymnastics presented new challenges and a different kind of fun for her.


Its still gymnastics, and Im still doing the same skills that I did previously, but I do think that it has been a whole lot more fun than club gymnastics, she said. I had a lot of fun in club, but its so different competing for a team and having the whole team support you and be behind you all the time. The main thing thats different is the team and I like that a lot just to be able to compete with a team and have everybody support each other.


Johnson also enjoys the support from the crowd. She said she gets an adrenaline rush from hearing the audience cheer during her floor routine.


I love having a huge crowd. Thats where I get my energy from. I can just feed off the audience. Its so much fun to be able to have them get into your floor routine with you, she said. I think the bigger the crowd, the better.


Though Johnson has come a long way from the energetic little gymnast who just wanted to tumble with her friends, one thing remains gymnastics is still as fun to her as it was 14 years ago.


Of course Ive had times where Ive struggled, but in the end Ive loved every moment of it, Johnson said. Ive learned more than the gymnastics part of it. It made me who I am.



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