Friday January 4, 2013Bridgette Caquatto: at home in Gainesville
by Eden Otero, UF Communications
She’s almost 1,100 miles from her hometown, but freshman Bridgette Caquatto feels right at home training in the Gators’ practice facility.
Bridgey, as she is called by friends and family, never felt right training without her sister, Mackenzie, who made the move from Naperville, Ill., to the University of Florida two years ago to begin her college gymnastics career.
Now that Mackenzie is in the same gym, Bridgey is happy again to “be back in that comfort zone,” as she describes it.
Her sister isn’t the only teammate who was welcoming when Bridgey joined the Gators this fall. Bridgey say’s that the team dynamic is great because the different personalities helps balance the team.
A two-time member of the U.S. Senior National Team, Bridgey became friends with one of UF’s other freshmen, Bridget Sloan, before both enrolled at the university. They competed together at the Pan American Games in October 2011.
“It was really cool to share it with Bridget, we have a bunch of inside stories that are always a lot of fun to look back and laugh about,” said Bridgey.
Though, the Pan American Games weren’t always fun for Bridgey. She hurt her knee two days before competition.
The outcome shocked her. Bridgey managed to power through the events to take the all-around gold on a knee so swollen she couldn’t even see her kneecap. The all-around gold came two days after aiding the U.S. to the Pan Am team gold medal. She added a third gold by taking the uneven bars title the day following the all-around final.
“I chipped a piece of bone off of my kneecap,” said Bridgey. “When they went in to do surgery on it, it turned out that I tore everything on the inside of my knee.”
Bridgey said the injury didn’t make competing difficult for her; instead, it was the method to keep it stable during events that took some altering. Adjustment on some of her skills was necessary to work around the injury.
“I had a pretty big tape job done on my knee so it was hard to bend,” said Bridgey. “On floor I could change things to pike instead of tuck, but on beam it was kind of hard.”
Even though the injury hindered her time at the Games, Bridgey says she sees the outcome of the meet as one that has taught her a lot about herself
“My time had finally come and I got to show people that all the hard work does pay off after the years I had,” she said. “I was just really thankful with the outcome and I was glad I could share it with the rest of the team.”
After battling her way back from knee surgery, Bridgey’s focus turned to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. But another injury, this time to her shoulder, kept her out of the Trials.
She went into surgery May 31 to have her rotator cuff repaired after being 50 percent torn. There was plenty for the surgeon to fix, but Bridgey says she’s healing faster than doctor’s predictions.
Bridgey won’t be competing at the beginning of the season as she works to regain the mastery of her skills. But she still anticipates experiencing her first college gymnastics meet with her teammates.
“I’m looking forward to cheering everyone on and seeing my teammates do really well in the first couple of meets,” she said.
And, of course, she looks forward to a day when a pair of Caquattos are part of the Gator lineup.