Thursday March 15, 2012Elizabeth Mahlich A Wiser Gator Thanks To Experiences Of Past Seasons
By Mara Rudolph, UF Communications
In her first three years at Florida, senior All-American Elizabeth Mahlich experienced the uncertainty of going to a school far from home, the thrill of winning a conference championship and the wisdom that came from a season that didn’t live up to expectations. Now in her final season with the Gators, Mahlich has had ample time for reflection on her gymnastics career, and she admits that she has learned a lot after her four seasons.
“I’m really glad I decided to come here. It’s been amazing,” Mahlich said. “I’ve definitely grown up a lot.”
Mahlich came to Gainesville from Mason, Mich., a small town just east of Detroit. She hadn’t really considered going out of state, but ultimately, Florida won her heart over. Still, coming to Gainesville required some adjustments.
“I didn’t really know what to expect. It was very overwhelming knowing that there were a lot of people on the team already from Florida who got to see their families all the time. It was different not being close to everyone I knew and getting used to the different coaches, but it was a good change,” she said.
She said each new team has brought a new learning experience.
“I think all three of us (seniors) would agree that each year has been different. We’ve just been building up to everything now. As we’ve gone through the four years, every team we’ve been on has been stronger and stronger. With this team this year, I’m so blessed to be with everyone,” Mahlich said.
After her uncertainty during her freshman season, Mahlich has worked hard to help the incoming freshmen adjust. Mahlich called herself “the person that you can go to just talk to.”
“I’ve really tried to get to know the freshmen a lot more. They are coming in, having the same experience as everyone else, and they’re all alone. It’s good to try to hang out with them more and get their minds off of being away from home,” she said. “It’s more bonding than we’ve done in the past few years so it’s been a lot of fun.”
Bonding with her teammates taught Mahlich one of her most important life lessons.
“Teamwork is key to success. Working as a team is more important than doing everything individually,” she said.
Balancing her schoolwork between training and traveling to road meets during the season taught her discipline and time management, two traits that she believes will be most useful to her as she moves on to the next stage of her life.
She hopes the next stage will include a few years of nursing school, and then a career as a forensic nurse, inspired by her interest in the show “Law & Order: SVU.” Mahlich is also looking forward to having a closer relationship with her family after she’s finished training for the season.
While she admits that she’ll feel overwhelmed as she runs for one last time out of the Gator tunnel for her Senior Day Meet, Mahlich said she has plenty of things to look forward to.
“I know it will be my last time in the O’Connell Center, but I think it’s going to be a great meet,” she said. “I’m ready to move on with life and have fun now in the real world.”