When you think about the Arizona gymnastics program over the past few years, the first name that comes to mind is Allie Flores.
Ever since she walked onto campus, she has brought with her a strong work ethic and has come quite a long way since her freshman campaign. With just two meets left in McKale Center during her NCAA collegiate gymnastics career, all 42 total meets she has competed in as a Wildcat seem to have blended together.
“I’m not really sure how it feels yet,” Flores said. “I don’t think it has really hit me fully. I can’t really focus on that. I just tell myself it’s another meet and [don’t] let my emotions get in the way of competing.”
Throughout her career, Flores has learned the true meaning of the word clutch. In many meets over the past three seasons, she has anchored her team in almost every event.
“She’s been such a workhorse,” said Arizona gymnastics coach Bill Ryden. “She has worked her way to being truly the competitive backbone of the team. People look to her if the team is in trouble; she will get them out of there.”
Ryden has been Arizona’s coach for 17 years now and said it’s rare for an athlete to come into a program and be the backbone that Flores has become.
“I’ve been blessed to coach a number of those type of athletes, but they are not all that common,” Ryden said. “If you have one on a team, you’re lucky. She certainly is toward the top of the list of people I have coached with that competitive drive and spirit.”
However, Flores brings more to the team than just outstanding routines on the court. She remains the senior captain and has been the face of the program for some time now.
“I’m honestly really blessed,” Flores said. “I work really hard and have always had goals for myself. The coaches have helped me accomplish my goals, and my teammates have helped me accomplish my goals too.”
After she finishes her undergraduate degree, Flores hopes to earn her master’s in nursing and plans to stay as involved as she can in the Arizona gymnastics program.
“Honestly, time flew by,” Flores said. “I couldn’t imagine competing for another program. Our program has grown so much in four years, and there have been so many changes, and I’m happy to be a part of that. It will always be a part of me.”
Flores has invested countless hours working both on and off the court for the program and said she will take away many skills that she has learned from her collegiate experience.
“I’ve definitely grown as a person,” Flores said. “Being on a team really prepared me for the future, because you are not going to like everyone you work with, but at the same time you are going to have to be with them. This team right now is the best team I’ve been on so far, and it’s taught me that all the lows are worth the highs.”
In just a few short weeks, the senior from Addison, Ill., will be running out of the tunnel onto the McKale Center floor for the final time to compete against Denver.
“Someone recently told me, ‘It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,’” Flores said. “I really have been keeping that in mind this year, because I know I’ve had my ups and downs throughout my career. I just really want to finish on a high note — so it really is how you finish.”
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