The excitement of a new NCAA gymnastics season — Thoughts from UCLA’s Emily Lee

The IX: Gymnastics Saturday with Lela Moore, Jan. 6, 2024

Happy Gymnastics Saturday and happy new year! And oh, it is a happy Gymnastics Saturday, for NCAA season has begun!

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I’m writing this on Friday afternoon before any meets begin, so you will not get any recaps or analysis this week. (You will get some next week and so on until April, though, don’t worry.)

In the meantime, know that I am screaming inside my heart as I navigate through a workday filled with gymnastics Muggles who don’t understand the significance of this day. And I can give you some suggestions about what to watch! 

Here is the full schedule for this week’s college gym meets. And here’s the lowdown on what streaming services to have in your arsenal to be ready for any and all meets. 

Let’s start with the Mean Girls Super 16 (yes, that’s the actual name — very fetch, I think). It will air live on the Super 16 YouTube channel, with scores available here. Session A (featuring Denver, Washington, Illinois and San Jose State) and Session B (with Oklahoma, Michigan, Kentucky and Michigan State) will have taken place by the time you read this.

But you can catch Session C (with Oregon State, Minnesota, Southern Utah and BYU) at 3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT today and Session D (with UCLA, Cal, Auburn and Alabama at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) tonight. 

The biggest event Sunday will be on ESPN+ with Temple facing off against West Virginia at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT. And we get a rare non-holiday Monday meet with Central Michigan and Arizona at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. 

Happy viewing!

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Other gym news

The Balance Beam Situation brings you the week’s schedule with links to streams and scores. We also get a breakdown of the new landing score deductions (will they take them?!) and previews of Oklahoma, Denver, UCLA and Cal

Besides its super-handy guide to streaming college meets, College Gym News kicks of the 2024 season with its first edition of this season’s The Mount, a comprehensive preview of the weekend. Read also: HBCU gymnastics and its impact, a college gymnast talks first-meet jitters, who’s about to have a breakout season, which event specialists to keep an eye on, and so much more.  

The Gymternet revived its gymnastics advice column with two new editions. Yay! 

Season 2 of “The Climb,” LSU’s documentary show, premiered Thursday

And don’t forget to check out Michigan’s new documentary series as well.

The new ESPN TV deal includes a pinky swear to keep the women’s NCAA gymnastics championships on ABC through 3032. 

UCLA’s Emma Malabuyo will miss meets against Cal and Utah to compete for the Philippines at World Cup events, with an eye on snagging an Olympic berth. 

Vanessa Deniz of Georgia confirmed that her injury is season-ending and likely career-ending. 

Juliette Rider has left LIU

Becky and Ellie Downie were appointed The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for their accomplishments on and off the four apparatuses.

Five at The IX: Emily Lee of UCLA

Emily Lee holds a pose on balance beam. She leans over her hands clutching the beam, with her right foot down on the beam and her left leg bent over her head and her toe pointed.
UCLA’s Emily Lee competes on balance beam in an undated photo. (Photo credit: Marie Goldfarb for UCLA Gymnastics)

UCLA’s gymnastics team is known for many things, including viral floor routines, excellent social media presence and a commitment to social justice. It’s also known for having leadoff beam ninjas: gymnasts who remain calm, cool and collected on arguably the most terrifying apparatus before an audience of thousands and hit like a boss, setting up the rest of the team for success.

Last year, that UCLA beam ninja was Emily Lee, and she’s ready to do it again. Now a junior, Lee took the time during meet week to answer a few questions for The IX. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity. 

What, if any, are your pre-meet superstitions? 

EL: I do not have any, I don’t think, haha. If I do, I do them subconsciously.

What does your routine look like the day of a meet? 

EL: For meet days, I try to keep my day as normal as possible. I make sure to get up around the same time, get a light breakfast in, get schoolwork done to be proactive, and then make sure I move around through walking or rolling out. I do my makeup about an hour and a half before we leave for the meet, and yeah, then we ride!

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What is a goal you have for the 2024 season? 

EL: My goal for 2024 is to stay healthy, keep building confidence and do everything I can so we win a national championship this year. 

Imagine you could only travel to meets via one method of transportation for the rest of your career: plane, train, or automobile (well, bus). Which would you choose and why? 

EL:  Plane because it’s the most efficient and best on the body.

What is your favorite skill and favorite apparatus?

EL: My favorite event is beam because I feel the most confident and composed on it. But my favorite skill is probably a double layout on floor.

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_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Lela Moore