'Gritty kind of pretty'
When the announcer in McKale Center introduces the senior from San Tan Valley, Arizona, the crowd cheers. From the tunnel, a sprinting Shelby Edwards races toward the mat, waving to the crowd and smiling every step of the way.
She high-fives each of her teammates while jumping up and down. There’s a reason she is one of the last gymnasts to be introduced: Edwards has been a leader on the Arizona gymnastics team for four years.
“I think that’s something that I contribute to the team is my energy and if I can make people smile when they compete, that relaxes their nerves to do what they want to do,” Edwards said.
The journalism senior has recently blogged for Arizona Athletics.
“I’m really happy that they gave me the opportunity,” Edwards said. “I love to write, so I’m really happy that I get to do it. Basically, it’s just my thoughts on the team or the season or anything that relates to gymnastics in some way.”
In her most recent blog, Edwards used the phrase “gritty kind of pretty” to describe what being a gymnast is like at the collegiate level.
“It just means so much of gymnastics is the pretty stuff where we wear makeup and bows,” Edwards said. “Behind the scenes is the real grit that we have to put in every single day, that we put in our whole lives. I think that being able to show that tough side of you, while also being beautiful out on the floor, is really what gymnastics is all about.”
Edwards’ teammates echoed the phrase “gritty kind of pretty” on the floor.
“It’s kind of more of a fight hard, but do it in a nice way,” junior Selynna Felix Terrazas said. “Usually we are known as the quiet team, the nice team. I honestly don’t have a problem with that as long as we do what we do.”
While many collegiate gymnasts wanted to be in the sport their entire life, Edwards did not aspire to it.
“I haven’t wanted to be a gymnast my whole life,” Edwards said. “It’s hard, really hard. There were definitely some times where I wanted to quit, but my parents … knew that I was good and they pushed me to stay in it. I’m so glad that they did because as I got older, I realized how much fun it is and how much I can use my talent to my advantage.”
But for all those tough times, Edwards has learned to be herself.
“It’s really easy to get discouraged because you see ... all these girls that you want to be like, but no matter how hard you try, it feels like you have never gotten to that point,” Edwards said. “I think as I got older and have grown as a gymnast, I realized I don’t have to be like them. I can just be me. I’m an amazing gymnast as I am, and I don’t have to try to be anybody else.”
Edwards will compete for the final time in McKale Center against BYU on March 11.
“It’s going to mean a lot to me,” Edwards said. “I love being in McKale. It’s going to be really hard. I’m so happy to have the support of my teammates and all of the people in Tucson that have come out to support us.”
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