Red Rocks Put the “Fun” in Fun Size at Short People Appreciation Night

On Saturday the Red Rocks will honor the people that are often overlooked — literally. It’s Short People Appreciation Night, and the Utes themselves know firsthand what the short life is like.

The 13 Utah gymnasts measure in at an average height of just over 5-foot-2, and they know the struggles of being on the small side.

You’ve got to hand it to the Red Rocks because, well, sometimes they can’t reach it themselves.

“The hardest things are reaching the top shelf at a grocery store, getting something at the top of a cabinet or walking by really tall people and feeling really short,” said freshman Kari Lee, who stands at 5-foot-1.

In her effort to reach that elusive top shelf at stores, Lee can be seen jumping, standing on the cart or piling things to stand on. Sometimes, though, those all fail to work, and she has to resort to her last option — ask someone for help. The ultimate short-person defeat.

Senior Becky Tutka, who at an even 5-foot is tied for the shortest on the team, has had similar trouble.

Like her teammate Lee, and thousands of other short people everywhere, Tutka also has problems reaching things, and at times that can lead to some vulnerable moments.

One day when organizing tupperware in her cabinets, Tutka was forced to step on a chair to reach the adequate height for the task. While standing on the chair her roommate asked, “Do you want me to scare you?”

Tutka responded, “no, no, no,” but alas, her roommate did it anyway, causing Tutka to fall down but fortunately not off the chair.

“I screamed, though,” Tutka said. “And it sounded deathly.”

Tutka is also the designated walking-and-talking armrest for her friends, and her age is often questioned. Just last week at the airport the 22-year-old Tutka was asked if she was in ninth grade.

Sometimes that mistake can be to her advantage.

“We can order off the kids’ menu,” Tutka said.

Lee offered up her own positive perspective on her short situation — she is, after all, always looking up.

“I can reach the floor faster,” Lee said with a chuckle. “If I trip and fall, my limbs aren’t long and lengthy, so I can be quick to get back up.”

Even with their short stature, Lee, Tutka and the rest of the Red Rocks impress thousands every time they go out on the gymnastics floor, where they put the fun in “fun size.”

“I think being shorter, it’s easier to control your motions and movements while you’re doing things,” Lee said. “Especially on bars, if you are kind of lengthy and long it’s hard to bring your body over and do all the skills.”

Studies have shown that doing gymnastics does affect growth, and Tutka poked fun at the results saying, “I claim that I’m going to grow next year when I’m done. I’m going to grow at least another inch and a half.”

But for now she will happily live with her small size.

“I get called ‘peanut,’ ‘little one’ and all these little names all the time,” Tutka said. “But I kind of like them now, I’m like, ‘Yeah that’s me.’ ”

The meet against Stanford begins at 7 p.m. and anyone 5-foot or under gets free admission.

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