Mistakes mask productive performance by Rutgers
The Rutgers gymnastics team is right on the cusp of becoming the team it wants to be.
The Scarlet Knights (5-5, 0-4 Big Ten) just needed a few better dismounts here and better landings there.
If not for a few small mistakes, Rutgers could have beaten then No. 21 Michigan State last Saturday at the Livingston Gym. It could have beaten then-No. 6 Nebraska the week before.
Those results have culminated to a winless record in the Big Ten. But given the competitive nature of both meets and how tough the Knights have played both teams, the season is far from lost.
With over two months left to go before the end of the season, the team has plenty of time to turn the tide in its favor.
If there is any gymnast who Rutgers can count on to lead the squad to its first conference win, its Emma Hoffman.
The 5-foot-2 senior captain from Union, New Jersey, is having an excellent final season.
Look no further than two weeks ago when Rutgers hosted Nebraska, Brockport and Southern Connecticut in its home opener.
There, Hoffman posted a 9.900 on uneven bars, which not only set a new career-high but also tied for the second-highest mark in program history.
It also helped the team finish with a total score of 49.100, the third-highest mark in school history and highest in any event for the team thus far in 2015.
She is one of the biggest reasons for the Knights’ success over the last four years.
She thanks her sister, Kayla, who competed with Alabama until 2011 and served as her role model in the sport.
“I started doing gymnastics when I was three years old,” Hoffman said. “My sister was already doing gymnastics so it was kind of, ‘Oh, I’ll just do what she does.’ I ended up really liking it and just stuck with it. We both ended up doing really great.”
Hoffman attended Abeka Academy (N.J.) before arriving at Rutgers.
Her role with the team is diverse, competing on vault, uneven bars and floor exercise.
Out of those events, Hoffman’s favorite to participate in is uneven bars.
“I like bars at this point in my career just because that’s what I’ve been really good at in college,” Hoffman said. “Bars is definitely my favorite. When you land that dismount and everyone jumps up and cheers for you, it’s a good feeling.”
While her success on uneven bars has made the event a personal favorite, floor exercise comes in a close second because she said she likes to feel the energy of the crowd.
“Previously, I just liked to do floor because it’s more fun,” Hoffman said. “You get to dance around and get the crowd involved.”
Her joy for floor exercise is also noticeable in her results.
During the Knights’ Blackout meet last Saturday, Hoffman contributed a 9.775. The week before that she set a new career-high with a mark of 9.800.
Entering the last two months of her final season, Hoffman’s time at Rutgers and her gymnastics career are nearly complete.
But given her individual and team’s success throughout her four-year career, along with being the part of the first Rutgers team to compete in the Big Ten, the senior has savored every minute of her time with the program.
“I’m definitely happy I chose Rutgers,” Hoffman said. “When I leave, I’m going to be prepared for the real world, which is nice. Being on this team has been such a great experience. All the coaches and the girls have really changed my life.”
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