Junior Tiffani Lewis performs her floor exercise during the Utah Red Rocks Gymnastics victory over the UCLA Bruins at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (Rishi Deka, Daily Utah Chronicle)

As senior Tiffani Lewis enters her final season with the University of Utah gymnastics team, she feels that there is something special about this year, but she can’t put her finger on exactly what it is. Lewis, who is an All-American Gymnast on the vault, is looking forward to the new season and continuing her gymnastics journey. It has been the Utah community that has made a lasting impression on Lewis.

“I think all of the people I’ve gotten to meet,” Lewis said. “I’ve been here, going on my fourth year, and I’ve gone through multiple teammates, and I’ve gotten to know the large Utah community and all of our supportive fans that actually come and travel with us. So, I think just meeting really quality people has been really exciting to me.”

Lewis’s mom, Stacey Ginoza, who also attended Utah, describes Lewis as a passionate person, but she is also known to be intense. She has been that way from the time she was little, and it’s the combination of her passion and intensity that has turned into success for Lewis.

The two-time Pac-12 floor and vault champion loved the history of the Utah gymnastics program before she decided to attend the university. When her former coach Terry Gray at Brown’s Gymnastics learned Utah was interested in Lewis, he made sure she gave Utah a chance. UCLA and California were both interested in her as well.

“Just the history, I mean the banners that are hung up in the gym, it just goes to show how amazing this program has been,” Lewis said. “I think Greg Marsden is the God Father of gymnastics. I was fortunate enough to be coached by him my freshman year.”

From the time she was three years old, Lewis has been involved in gymnastics. Both her and her identical twin sister, Taylor, did gymnastics together up until level eight. Taylor went the cheerleading route and is now a cheerleader at UNLV, while Lewis earned a scholarship with the Red Rocks.

While her goal was to compete in the Olympics, it was Gray, who had previously worked with Olympic athletes, that helped her realize the talents and gifts that she has. He pushed her to become a better athlete and change her mentality. That shift has shaped Lewis into who she is today and it has made her more appreciative of her time at Utah.

“I think it’s really important to keep a standard for Utah gymnastics,” Lewis said. “And to be somebody that the incoming freshman can look up to and know this is how it’s done. This is how Utah gymnastics is.”

As her final season approaches, Ginoza can’t believe that her daughters time as a collegiate athlete is slowly winding down.

“It has been one of those things that has been a little bit surreal,” Ginoza said. “For so long, since she was three years old, our life has been very structured around gymnastics.”

Lewis and the Red Rocks will open their season on Saturday, Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. against BYU at the Huntsman Center.

c.mcmanamon@dailyutahchronicle.com

@curramac22

Carra McManamon is a sports writer for the Daily Utah Chronicle where she covers a variety of sports. She has interned with Deseret News Sports where she mainly covered college football. Carra currently is a ESPNU Campus Rep and also contributes for Ute Nation on Rivals.com.

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