NCAA Gymnastics is here — Thoughts from the founder of Our Colour — Must-click links

The IX: Gymnastics Saturday with Jessica Taylor Price, January 15, 2022

NCAA season is upon us, and it’s all very exciting. Teams are scoring very, very high for this early in the season, with the top five teams of week one all reaching a 197 or higher.

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After week one, Michigan leads the standings after scoring a 197.750 in their at-home season opener against Georgia. They excelled on vault, bars, and floor, where they didn’t count a score below 9.85, and Natalie Wojcik killed it in the all-around for a 39.65. Florida is in second with a 197.6750 after its own home opener, where they did especially well on bars and floor and Sloane Blakely made her debut with a 39.400. 

Oklahoma, Utah, and Denver round out the top five. Notably, in week one Oklahoma scored two perfect 10s, on vault:

For week two, Auburn won on the road with a 197.250 against Arkansas, which scored a 197.200, on Friday. while we’re here, Maggie O’Hara’s bars were near perfect:

Meanwhile, Utah earned a 197.775 — the top score of the season thus far — and beat Oklahoma, which earned a 196.6500 after a rough beam rotation. Also, Grace McCallum won the all-around with a 39.6750, also the highest score so far this season:

Arizona State and Michigan will compete on Saturday and Alabama will face Florida on Sunday. UCLA has their season opener against Minnesota on Monday.

Gymnastics news

  • Sadly, two of the year’s most highly anticipated seniors are injured. Kara Eaker has a sprained ankle and will be out for a couple weeks, and Morgan Hurd had surgery on a torn ACL.
  • COVID continues to affect NCAA schedules. For week two, Boise State dropped out of their season opener, and meets at UW-Oshkosh, Southern Connecticut, and SEMO were canceled outright. LSU at Missouri was also postponed. Check out the up-to-date schedule at College Gym News.
  • Elite Canada has also been canceled.
  • Sanne Wevers is working on a clear hip layout tkatchev.
  • Sunisa Lee signed a deal with an activewear brand (People).
  • In leotard fashion news, what bizarro time are we living in because Oklahoma’s new leo is actually gorgeous and not a disaster. Utah’s was also beautiful this week:

Tweet of the week

Five at the IX: Mary Korlin-Downs

Image: Our Colour

Mary Korlin-Downs is a recent Minnesota grad and the founder of Our Colour, an athletic wrap for athletes of all skin tones. She kindly spoke to me late last year about the new business. Edited for clarity and length.

How long has Our Colour been around, and how did it get started?
I was a collegiate gymnast and I just graduated from the University of Minnesota back in May. And all throughout my collegiate career I noticed that everyone was using this tan tape no matter their skin tone, and I was like, “this is an evident problem, and no one’s doing anything about it.” But since I was a college student, I had no resources and no money. Since I graduated and I have a full-time job now, I have more time and resources on my hands to actually do something that I want to do to benefit the gymnastics community. So in July, I finally came to terms with, OK, I have enough money, I have enough resources, I really want to make this happen. I’m seeing that no one else is doing anything else about it so I might as well do it. I’m a product designer by trade, so I know a little bit about manufacturing and business, and branding and marketing. I figured if no one was going to do it, I was going to take it upon myself.

I started the brand in July. I tried to get the logistics down, tried talking to manufacturers. Literally within days of making the Instagram account, I already had NCAA gymnasts reaching out to me saying, “I love this idea; I really want to be a part of your brand.” I’m like, “I don’t even have a product to give you right now.” So I had to halt all communication at that point.

Then November rolled around and I was finally able to get something in place with manufacturers so that’s when I really set in stone that Our Colour was going to be a brand and I was going to make this happen for the 2022 gymnastics season. So Our Colour really hasn’t been around for that long, I’d say literally since November I’ve done a lot of business moves when it comes to getting a product, getting branding and packaging and talking to athletes, and getting communication out to the gymnastics world. I haven’t been around for long but I’ve noticed that this has been an evident problem for a while so I finally came to terms with the fact that I need to do something about it.

You really have no competitors?
There is nobody else out there. That’s why I am so astonished by this. Band-Aid recently came out with more inclusive colors, and they’ve been around for 80+ years. Honestly, I want to get samples out to these gymnasts as soon as possible so they can feel the product and commit to it before season, but I’m working with manufacturers over in China and it’s very difficult, because there’s nothing out there. I’m making this brand new product essentially. They don’t have all-inclusive coloring, they don’t have an all-color palette for skin tone spectrums, so there’s literally no competitors out there. Which is very interesting; it’s 2021!

Have you seen the examples of mesh leotards that match athletes’ skin tones?
I was on the Minnesota team last year and I think one of our first meets was against Iowa. They had one gymnast of color on their team and they had one leo that had the darker skin tone of mesh to match their one gymnast of color. I remember the gymternet blew up and I was really shocked, I’m like, wow, this is the first time I’ve ever seen that, and it’s 2020. It was the coolest thing. It sparked a lot of ideas. And all through 2020 we were talking a lot about racial justice and things like that, so that really opened my eyes to how many injustices there are and the little things that people of color might not have. Athletic tape. That’s a bare necessity, don’t you think?

How do you feel about all the attention the brand is getting?
We’re brand, brand new. I’m absolutely loving the attention that people are bringing to Our Colour; I’ve had so many people reach out saying that this is amazing or they want to be involved. Girls of all skin tones want to be a part of Our Colour, which I think is absolutely amazing. We’re brand new; I’m trying my best to get products out to girls to give them what they need for this season. Business is difficult when you’re a one-man team. I would say I’m slow to the races, but I absolutely love all the attention that Our Colour is getting and I hope that this can be a product that will last for years and can really benefit gymnasts and athletes of all sports. 

Update: Who have you partnered with?
We have over 45 Our Colour Athletes in our ambassador program:

  • Athletes from NCAA, club, JO
  • Our Colour gymnasts: Kiya Johnson, Ciara Ward, Alina Miller, Lexi Edwards, to name a few
  • Sports: Gymnastics, Cheer, Track & Field, Acrobatics and Tumbling, Trampoline, Basketball, Football, & Softball
  • We have gymnasts from the Big Ten, SEC, Big 12, Pac-12, EAGL, MPSF, MAC, WIAG
  • 11 College teams (9 Gymnastics teams, 1 Track & Field, 1 Football) have placed orders for their athletes
  • Some gym teams: UCLA, OU, Alabama, Oregon State, Ohio State, + more

Lexi Edwards from Ohio State was the first gymnast to compete with Our Colour tape last weekend against Arkansas. Also, Our Colour is partnering with Megan Skagg’s Tiny Bow Project week of Allyship.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parkerThe IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: Anne Tokarski, @annetokarski, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Jessica Taylor Price, @jesstaylorprice, Freelance Gymnastics Writer