There are approximately 100 African American and other student-athletes of color this school year at the University of Minnesota. In an occasional series throughout the 2018-19 school and sports year, the MSR will highlight many of these players.
This week: Gopher junior gymnast Paige Williams
Minnesota junior gymnast Paige Williams is applying what she learned during her first two seasons when she watched several upperclassmen helping newcomers get acclimated to being a collegiate gymnast.
“I know it’s really difficult for [freshmen]” transitioning from high schools and clubs to adjust to the sport’s collegiate expectations, said Williams.
Just like her veteran teammates who regularly checked in with her during her first year, Williams is doing something similar with this season’s six newcomers. This role, however, wasn’t something she envisioned, she quickly pointed out.
“I don’t think anything made it easy,” the soft-spoken Williams admitted on being a team leader, especially a vocal one. “I’m more, like, leading by example,” she said. “I think I am getting better at it.”
At last year’s NCAA Regionals, Williams scored a career-high 9.950 on floor. The then-sophomore also posted scores of 9.900 or higher on floor in five of her last six meets. She twice scored a season high of 9.800 on vault last season as well.
Her goals this season: “Starting where I finished last year,” said Williams. “I had a pretty good score sheet going.” The Gopher junior scored 9.825 last weekend on
Williams said she’s now settled on an academic major: business marketing. “I changed my major two times already,” she said. “I am in my college now and taking classes for my major.”
This weekend, January 12, Minnesota hosts the Best of Minnesota meet with Gustavus Adolphus, Winona State and Hamline at Maturi Pavilion.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.