Rowe’s family pushes her to all-around level

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Heading into last summer the future didn’t look very bright for Red Rock sophomore Baely Rowe.

During her freshman season, Rowe hadn’t lived up to her coaches’ expectations, and concern was creeping in if she ever would become the gymnast the Utah coaching staff thought she could be.

“She really didn’t do what we had hoped she’d do last year as a freshman,” Utah co-head coach Megan Marsden said. “And this summer it wasn’t looking good, it just wasn’t looking good on her being a lot better — how she was approaching her offseason.”

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Since she was seven years old, Rowe had been a gymnastics star. Before ever stepping foot on the U’s campus, she received a list of accolades that would make any athlete take notice. She was a three-time Junior Olympic Champion — winning the all-around in 2013 and the bars in 2010 and 2012, she won the Washington state all-around, vault, bars and beam championship and she’s been on all-star teams and competed in national competitions time and time again.

Chris Ayers

She was a star, she was a champion — things weren’t supposed to be this hard.

“It was a reality check,” said Rowe’s mother, Shelli Kruzner-Rowe.

The Utah coaches weren’t shy in sharing what they wanted from Rowe. She hadn’t been terrible her freshman season, far from it, hitting on 12 of the 13 routines she was scored in, but the Ute coaches expected more — they needed more.

“It was a wake-up call,” Rowe said. “I really needed to get my act together and come in this season and show the coaches that I can do this, and that I can be a big part of this team.”

Rowe was the only freshman a season ago, and though she said that the upperclassmen were helpful, she mentioned it was difficult at times to not have anyone going through the same things with her.

“It’s hard transitioning from club,” senior Georgia Dabrtiz said. “It’s a big change, your coming from home where you don’t have a lot responsibility to coming here and you are on your own and you have to take care of yourself. It’s a combination of things, I just don’t think that transition came easy [for Baely].”

Rowe went home and based off the advice from her parents, wrote down some goals: be more consistent, clean up her gymnastics, become part of the team and get back into physical and mental shape.

The last one may have been the hardest. Kruzner-Rowe said she had never seen her daughter look so down. She wasn’t carrying herself well and she seemed closed off.

“The biggest thing was to rebuild the confidence,” Kruzner-Rowe said. “It was shaken, but she was more scared. She felt that she would never gain the trust back from [Utah head coaches] Greg and Megan [Marsden], in a sense that yeah, ‘I can be the gymnast that you looked at for so many years and you recruited.’”

The Rowe family is full of athletes. Baely’s older brother Kelyn was the 2011 Pac-12 Soccer Player of the Year at UCLA and now plays for the New England Revolution of MLS, her older sister Bree also competed in the Pac-12, playing soccer for Oregon and her two parents both were college athletes as well.

The family knows what it takes to be a top collegiate athlete, and they knew Baely was capable of more.

“We didn’t give her hugs and say, ‘oh, honey it’s okay,’” Kruzner-Rowe said. “We said, ‘They (your coaches) are right, what are you going to do about it? And the challenge is don’t tell me you’re going to do it. Go back and show it. Your actions are far more worthy than your words.’”

Baely’s siblings led the charge letting her know that she needed to outwork everyone be the best that she can.

Rowe became more focused. She went to the gym with specific goals in mind, she went on runs and she became more conscientious about what she ate and when she went out with friends.

Gone were the days of her being the only superstar, she was now one of many talented gymnasts all-vying for spots in lineups and she responded by working harder than she ever had.

By the end of the summer, Rowe was holding her head high, ready for the challenge.

A new confidence came with Rowe, as the Utes began training for the upcoming season. That confidence not only made her become better in the gym, but it also came with a smile — she was happy to be there, and her teammates noticed.

“I think the biggest difference I saw was you could tell she wanted to be here,” Dabritz said. “She was willing to put in that work this year, I mean she worked hard last year but she wasn’t working to her full potential but this year she definitely is.”

After only competing on beam as a freshman, Rowe has earned herself an all-around spot, and has become of the Utes most consistent beamers — winning the event twice this season. She’s come a long way from where she was just seven months ago.

“It was a big challenge,” Kruzner-Rowe said. “She’s never had to fight for this before. I am so relieved and proud, and every time we see her we still see that confidence, that lady that has now matured so much into who she’s going to be and what she wants to be. It’s wonderful, there aren’t words to describe it.”

After being let down by her performance a season ago, Utah coaches are grinning from ear-to-ear about what Rowe has been able to accomplish in 2015.

“She can do all-around for us each week,” Megan Marsden said. “She’s one of my stellar beam performers that I can count on 9.90 each week, and that’s been kind of fun to watch. It gives me goose bumps thinking where she was and how she was looking at her self to where she is among this group. So it’s quite an inspirational sports story in my mind.”

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