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The Honda Award distinguishes freshman Bridget Sloan as the top collegiate gymnast of 2013.

Monday April 29, 2013Florida gymnast Bridget Sloan is the 2013 Honda Sports Award recipient

Gainesville, Fla.

The Honda Award distinguishes freshman Bridget Sloan as the top collegiate gymnast of 2013.

Chris Harry
By Chris Harry
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- She competed for the U.S. Olympic Team at the 2008 Games in Beijing, so the pressure to nail a trio of routines before a few thousand fans at the NCAA Championships wasn’t about to get to freshman Bridget Sloan

 

But even Sloan was taken aback by the utter joy and satisfaction of what she and her Gators teammates accomplished and ultimately celebrated collectively. 

 

2012-13 Honda Sports Award Recipients

Each season, The Collegiate Women Sports Awards program recognizes the top collegiate female student-athlete in 12 sports. Below are the recipients named so far this season:

 

Sport

Name

 

School

Basketball

Elena Delle Donne

SR

Delaware

Cross Country

Betsy Saina

SR

Iowa State

Field Hockey

Katie Reinprecht

SR

Princeton

Gymnastics

Bridget Sloan

FR

Florida

Soccer

Crystal Dunn

JR

North Carolina

Swimming/Diving

Allison Schmitt

SR

Georgia

Volleyball

Alaina Bergsman

SR

Oregon

 “I’d never really been part of a team that was this close, which made it all even more special,” Sloan said of UF’s stirring comeback -- after a disastrous opening rotation on the beam -- to win the program’s first gymnastics title in school history. “We formed a sisterhood.” 

 

In the end, Sloan stood tallest among her Gators siblings -- not to mention over all NCAA competitors -- by winning the meet’s all-around and balance beam individual titles, becoming the second UF gymnast to win multiple NCAA events in the same year. 

 

And the haul of hardware didn’t stop there. 

 

Gator Honda Sports Award Recipients

Name

Sport

Year

Bridget Sloan

Gymnastics

2013

Kytra Hunter

Gymnastics

2012

Kelsey Bruder

Softball

2011

Caroline Burckle

Swimming

2008

Danielle Fotopoulos

Soccer

1998

Jill Craybas

Tennis

1996

Nicole Haislett

Swimming

1994

Lisa Raymond

Tennis

1993

Lisa Raymond

Tennis

1992

Shaun Stafford

Tennis

1988

Page Dunlap

Golf

1986

Tracy Caulkins

Swimming

1984^

Tracy Caulkins

Swimming

1983

Tracy Caulkins

Swimming

1982^

Ann Woods

Gymnastics

1982

Renee Laravie

Swimming

1978

 

 

 

^Recipient of Broderick Award (previous name of Collegiate

Woman Athlete of the Year Award

Sloan, from Pittsboro, Ind., was named Monday as the 2013 recipient of the Honda Award, an honor given annually to the nation’s top female in each of 12 sports. She is the second consecutive UF gymnast to claim the prestigious award, following in the steps of teammate Kytra Hunter, who captured the 2012 Honda by winning a pair of individual titles at last year’s nationals, when the Gators fell just .075 from winning the team crown. 

 

Enter Sloan, who helped push the program over the top and in doing so became the first gymnast ever to win World, U.S. and NCAA all-around championships.

 

She is the third UF gymnast to claim the Honda, joining both Hunter and Ann Woods in 1982. 

 

“Two in a row -- and both freshmen,” UF coach Rhonda Faehn said with pride Monday. “Can you believe it?” 

 

After competing at the elite level for most of her gymnastics life, Sloan took extra satisfaction in her latest personal achievement because it wasn’t just about her. 

 

“For me, this just sort of solidifies being able to turn the page from my elite career to my college career, which has been great so far,” Sloan said. “That’s why the NCAAs were so important. I’m competing for Florida now. The Honda Award may be an individual award, but I won it for UF.” 

 

Faehn took particular satisfaction in seeing Sloan -- who had pretty much seen it all before ever arriving on campus -- immerse herself in the collegiate challenge. 

 

“There’s always that fear that someone of that caliber can come into college gymnastics and find it so easy that, you know, maybe she doesn’t have to work as hard or produce as much,” Faehn said. “But Bridget was so excited from the start. Her attitude was, ‘Give it to me! What do I have to do? I am committed to this!’ Whatever challenge I put to her, she attacked it.” 

 

Ultimately, she attacked the field at the NCAA meet. On the opening rotation, Sloan led not only the Gators but all competitors in the NCAA Super Six team final with a 9.95 balance beam score. It was a key score as two of her teammates took spills during their routines. 

 

Faehn knew Sloan had something special in store at nationals when the freshman turned to her before climbing on the beam. Sloan, with a gleam in her eye, basically told her she was going to nail her routine. 

 

“I had never had an athlete call it out like that,” Faehn said. “She just put herself out there and on the line. It was amazing, but it also was a perfect indication of why she’d been so successful all these years at the highest competition.” 

 

She went on to score collegiate-bests of 9.95 for vault and floor exercise and 9.90 for uneven bars for an all-around score of 39.75 that bested all competitors at the NCAA Super Six. 

 

For Sloan, her energy and attitude just spilled over. 

 

“In college, you really get to put on a show and get the fans involved,” she said. “I loved my floor routine and the way you can show off your facial expressions. And then, the moment you land a great routine, stick the dismount and throw your hands back ... .”

 

She paused. 

 

“It’s the greatest feeling in the world.” 

 

Even greater when you can share it. 

 

 

 

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