Spotlight Knight: Belle Huang
A humble being whose actions speak louder than words. If sophomore Belle Huang was described in one sentence, that would be it.
Huang is the only gymnast representing the Rutgers gymnastic team at the NCAA Regionals today in Athens, Georgia at 2 p.m., but she didn’t get there without a bump or two in the road.
Growing up in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Huang and her mom went to their nearby city center with music and dancing classes. One of the teachers took a particular interest in Huang and recommended she try some introductory gymnastic classes.
From the moment she stepped into the gym, Huang fell in love with the sport. It’s also one of the only sports that she has done. It was between gymnastics and ice skating, but Huang knew immediately where her heart lied.
“Since I was little, I didn’t really know anything else,” Huang said. “I tried ice skating, but I wasn’t fond of the cold or falling on the hard ice. At a certain point, I didn’t have enough time for both, so I had to choose.”
Her next fork in the road came before she headed off to college. Huang was caught between pursuing her academics or continuing with athletics.
Again, Huang followed her heart, even against her parents’ beliefs.
“My parents are very academic-focused,” Huang said. “Honestly, my mom didn’t really want me to do gymnastics because she wanted me to focus on my school. She thought that I could focus on career stuff and not have to spend time on both, but I was the one who wanted to do gymnastics.”
With her head held high, Huang entered the world of college academics and gymnastics. On the academic side of things, high school was a breeze compared to the amount of studying Huang has dedicated to her biological sciences major. If she’s not in the gym practicing her routines, Huang is probably grinding out her homework until the next practice.
Thankfully, the added hours of hitting the books came from the reduced hours in the gym. Per NCAA rules, student athletes are only allowed a max practice schedule of 20 hours a week. For Huang, a typical week of high school gymnastics was close to 30 hours.
“I feel like gymnastics is the only sport that goes down after college,” Huang said. “In practice, you have to focus a lot more. You can’t have any wasted turns. It’s also nice with how (the coaches) structure it. They want to keep our bodies alive, well and healthy.”
Transitioning from one staff to another can always be difficult, but head coach Umme Salim-Beasley and the rest of the staff have implemented a schedule Huang and the team can only succeed in.
With team or partner assignments, Huang said the team depends on each other, motivating the group to perform the best they can during practice and competition.
Spending less but more focused time in the gym has skyrocketed Huang’s ability to compete on the collegiate stage. She’s a two-time NCAA regional qualifier and the Scarlet Knights’ top all-around gymnast. Huang was also named to this season’s Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch List and was selected to the Second Team All-Big Ten.
Funny thing is you wouldn’t know about all of Huang’s accolades from talking to her. Huang’s humble appearance helps her stay relaxed, and even if she is at all stressed during competition, you wouldn’t think twice when she’s actually competing.
Part of that may come from Huang’s biggest role model: Her mom.
“She has taught me so many things and she’s such a good person,” Huang said. “I want to keep learning more. Learn from her mistakes, but also learn from her good qualities to be a good person in life.”
Even though she’s only a sophomore, Huang’s positive qualities will definitely shine through as she represents Rutgers on the floor today at Regionals. She isn’t shooting for anything in particular, but is looking to have a lot of fun with her last performance of the season.
“Floor is a very relaxing, stress-free event for me,” Huang said. “It’s just another one for the books, going for the experience and getting to watch other gymnasts.”
For updates on the Rutgers gymnastics team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.