Not since Stevenson Sylvester ripped through the Alabama offensive line to get to quarterback John Parker Wilson in the 2009 Sugar Bowl has there been a better celebratory fist pump than outgoing senior gymnast Baely Rowe. Friday night will be the last time Rowe parties like it’s 1999 in the Huntsman Center, where she has captivated gymnastics fans the past four years with her fun-loving personality and competitive spirit.
“It doesn’t happen often with a lot of teams but I think it’s been great,” Rowe said of being the only senior on this year’s Red Rocks squad. “We have a great junior and sophomore class that have been really helping me so I’m not really the only one. I still have the upper classmen who have been a great support and they’ve been leaders as well.”
Rowe started out her career at Utah mainly as a beam specialist, but has seen her role grow over the years as she has become a solid all-arounder for the Utes. Perhaps Rowe’s most unique ability is how she can tune out a 15,000 plus crowd and dance like she’s in her room listening to her favorite song whether it be on a four inch wide beam or the floor.
“I mean obviously she is a great all-arounder for us but balance beam has been from the beginning what she showed that she’s just a natural,” co-head coach Megan Marsden said of her talented senior. “She loves being up on the balance beam and the crowd knows that and they reward her for that when she gives them a great performance.”
Two weeks ago against UCLA, Rowe felt that reward in a big way as she flawlessly performed her beam routine to Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror” complete with the moonwalk, She started to cry as the crowd appealed to the judges to give her a perfect 10. “It was kind of an in-the-moment kind of thing. It was a great crowd,” she said of the moment. “A great team we were going against and once I hit that routine it kind of all just came out. I’m almost done. One more time in the Huntsman after this, and it kind of just came out and I got a little emotional. After that routine I just felt like it was a great routine and –I don’t know- it got to me. I don’t know what happened but just it was an in-the-moment kind of thing and it made me cry.”
While Rowe has always been at home on the beam and has been a great all-arounder for the Utes the past few seasons she said there were two events in particular she had to work on during her time at Utah. “I came in and always loved bars and beam,” she said. “I was powerful but I didn’t know how to land things and I think that was the one thing coming here and learning how to land the skills that was difficult for me. Learning how to do that and really practicing and working hard to do that and get consistent at it. I think I have grown a lot there.”
Although Rowe had to work on gaining confidence in her skills she says her experience at Utah has been one she will always cherish from the fans, the coaches and most of all her teammates. “We had a team that we won two Pac-12’s in a row and we placed 2nd at Nationals. Those are the memories I will always remember forever,” she said. “Competing in front of the fan base that we have. We have 15,000 fans almost every weekend is unbelievable. It’s hard to explain how amazing that is. People always say it’s really nerve wracking but I always go out there and kind of enjoy it.”
While Rowe prepares for life after gymnastics (she’s a double major in communications and sociology and hopes to get into advertising someday) she says some of the biggest takeaways she will leave Utah with come from her coaches Tom Farden and Megan Marsden.
“Tom always says ‘small, positive changes’ and that’s always going to be with life, family, school, gymnastics,” Rowe said. “You aren’t going to be up top the entire time, you have to build yourself to get up there. Megan always says ‘enjoy the time you have left here’ because those are going to be your best friends you’re going to make your entire life. So just enjoying each and every moment.”
As the clock strikes “zero, zero- party over, oops out of time” on Rowe’s career she hopes she leaves a legacy of hard work and dedication with the Red Rocks that will stand the test of time. “I want the team to remember me as the girl who always worked hard in the gym and was a leader for them to look up to,” she said. “One that just knew how to have a good time and enjoy everything.”