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Collected Wisdom; Taylor Spears, OU national champion gymnast

Taylor Spears was overcome with emotion last week when asked to describe what it meant to share the championship with her mom. She had no siblings, and her father died when she was a fifth-grader.
by Jason Kersey Published: May 10, 2014
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About five years ago, Taylor Spears thought she wanted to go to a college far away from her mother.

“We were just around each other so much,” Spears said. “But I’m glad it worked out this way.”

Spears was a first-team All-American as a senior this year on Oklahoma’s gymnastics team, which shared the national championship with Florida last month.

Spears was overcome with emotion last week when asked to describe what it meant to share the championship with her mom. She had no siblings, and her father died when she was a fifth-grader.

At a time when mothers are celebrated worldwide, Taylor Spears describes her life in gymnastics, the national championship and her mom, who Spears calls her best friend.

I was 3 years old, and my mom was just trying to put me in a sport so I could have stuff to do. I tried tennis and I swam a lot.

Then I tried gymnastics, and it was just so easy for me because I was so little.

I started competing at a young age, when I was about 8, and it just went from there.

We lived in Houston when my dad passed, so we moved up to Plano, where the Olympic Gymnastics Academy was. My mom decided to move us up north because it was just us, and she wanted to be closer to her family. It just worked out.

I was 14 and I quit gymnastics for a week. My mom said, “OK, well, you’re gonna have to go to a regular junior high and find something else to do.” I just couldn't picture my life without it.

I’m really glad that I stuck with it.

I didn’t even want to come take a visit to OU, but it was so close that we could drive, and my mom couldn't afford to fly me out to Florida, and fly me out to Georgia every other weekend.

We came here first, and I had a trip planned the next weekend to LSU but I didn't even go to it. I just came here and decided I wanted to come here.

I traveled to Russia for about a week when I was 13 or 14. Another year went by and I was still elite, which is almost Olympic level. Then I guess a year went by, and I just grew up more.

It’s a lot easier for men (to go to the Olympics at an older age) because they don’t really go through the same changes we do, and they just get stronger and bigger.

I just decided that really wasn't what I wanted to do. I wanted to have fun and get a scholarship, get my school paid for. But people choose to go that way, and it’s just really hard to do.

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by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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