Iowa men’s gymnasts making most of final season

With this academic year being the final season of NCAA men’s gymnastics at Iowa, the gymnasts are looking up instead of feeling defeated.


Tate Hildyard

Iowa’s Stewart Brown performs his floor routine during a Men’s gymnastics meet against The University of Minnesota and the University of Illinois at Chicago. The Hawkeyes won with a final team score of 400.00.

Isaac Goffin, Assistant Sports Editor

The Iowa men’s gymnastics program was the only program that kept talking to redshirt sophomore Stewart Brown after he had surgery during his junior year of high school.

Brown said that the program checked in to see how he was recovering. He showed he was coming back, and they offered him a spot on the team.

Though he had a shaky freshman season because of an injury, he ended up earning All-American honors when he placed seventh at the 2019 NCAA Championships on the parallel bars.

Unfortunately for Brown, the school that gave him the opportunity to compete on a national stage is now discontinuing the sport after this academic year, it announced on Aug. 21. Brown said there was a lot of negative energy when the team heard the news.

His teammate, redshirt freshman Reuven Anderson, was devasted and didn’t expect to hear that news with school starting so soon. Anderson had to emotionally calm down and look at things from the athletics department’s perspective. It has gotten better for him and the team.

“I just try thinking about my teammates and what they’re going through and we’re all going through the same thing,” Anderson said. “But ultimately, we have limited time with each other, and just trying to think about making the most of that time with them and enjoy whatever time we’re given and make memories that will last instead of complaining or feeling defeated.”

The team doesn’t have goals yet for the season because they don’t know yet if there will be a season.

RELATED: Iowa men’s gymnastics head coach reflects on the team’s discontinuation

With COVID-19 making things difficult to plan, the Hawkeyes are practicing, but their last season as a varsity sport may have already happened.

Brown said that once a couple weeks have past, he thinks they’ll have discussions on practice structure and goal this season, depending on how the virus spreads. Currently, practices haven’t been structured.

On the afternoon of that dreadful day, Brown posted a Twitter thread, which in part said his generation needs to do their part in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and that spring sport seasons are directly tied to that.

“I just want to say that I was surprised I didn’t get a lot of negative comments back for it,” Brown said. “I think a lot of people understood my tone. But the thing that I want to hammer across is that I said I didn’t want to pull the student-athlete card because I made the choice to be a student-athlete and there’s going to be things that you have to sacrifice to be a student-athlete, and I completely understand that.

“And on top of that, I think there’s a big common misconception that student-athletes are getting everything and that their school is paid for and that’s not the case. A lot of these student-athletes, and me included, are tuition-paying students.”

As reported by The Daily Iowan last week, there’s a possibility the team could compete outside of being a varsity sport in future years, though that’s not guaranteed. This will be the final season of the team as people know it because the UI said the discontinuation from the NCAA level is final.

Not all the gymnasts know what they’ll do after this season, but the program’s history will always be there.

“To put the program itself into a couple sentences over its entirety is definitely tough,” Brown said. “But I think in recent years the program has really been on an upswing and it sucks to see it going after this year.”

Facebook Comments