GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Gators women's gymnastics team has an eye on the network stage.
"I just get goosebumps thinking about it," said UF head coach Jenny Rowland.
ABC announced it will air the 2021 NCAA Championships on Saturday, April 17 at 3:30 p.m. It's the first time the network will broadcast the event.
Rowland, the SEC Coach of the Year, says she's thrilled to have such a big platform for an event that some sports fans might not normally get to see.
"Really excited to be able to showcase a sport that not only am I so passionate about, but so many others are passionate about," Rowland said, via video chat. "It’s the pure joy of sport, and competitiveness, and athleticism, and grace, and everything all combined in one."
Senior gymnast Megan Skaggs says giving the sport this platform is another step forward for women's athletics.
"I think it’s really special for the sport of gymnastics, but just female sports in general," she said. "To showcase that on such a broad level for young athletes to look up to, and say that they can get there someday and see that our hard work is rewarded."
The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out last year's NCAA Championships, so the Gators say they're taking nothing for granted. They're treating every competition like it could be their last.
"I think sometimes you get caught up in wins and losses and you forget the opportunity that you have," said senior Alyssa Baumann. "Just how special it is to be able to go out there and represent Florida, and be a part of the SEC, and compete on that stage. It’s put things into a different perspective."
The Gators, ranked #1 in the nation, took home a disappointing third-place finish at the SEC Championships, but they think that might be a blessing in disguise.
"It’s a good reminder that you still have to show up every single day and be on and get that momentum going," Skaggs said. "It’s a good learning experience for sure."
Florida heads to Athens, Georgia, to compete against eight other teams in the NCAA Regionals. There are a total of four, nine-team Regionals, with the top two teams in each region advancing to the NCAA Championships in Fort Worth, Texas.