WESTWOOD, Calif. – The Bruins should be spending this week preparing for the NCAA Regionals, and this was supposed to be a story -- spending a day in the life of UCLA senior, Gracie Kramer.
“I’ve grown so immensely that I don’t even recognize myself,” said the senior back at the start of her final season with the Bruins.
The San Clemente native came to Westwood as a walk-on trying to find her confidence on a roster stacked with former Olympians.
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She hit it this year as a star on floor with her expressive choreography.
“I can just let go and enjoy all the hard work,” Kramer explained back in January. “I guess that I can enjoy that my hard work can finally pay off?”
Kramer had found her voice and was ready to take the Bruins to their second championship in three seasons, but her 2020 team and dreams dissolved in the face of the coronavirus.
“Honestly I couldn’t focus at all. All I had in the back of my mind was that my career went from potentially peaking to being over,” Kramer said.
Much like her Billie Eilish-themed routines, this feels like a bad nightmare.
But as Kramer explains, college seniors aren’t just grieving their lost opportunities,
“It wasn’t so much of the I’m not going to win a national championship again. It was more so the fact that I’m not going to be able to do gymnastics again," she said.
This is the goal Kramer set for herself at the outset of her final lap:
“I know that if I can just take each meet as it is and enjoy every single moment of it and soak up every single moment I’m not going to feel regretful and the result comes on it’s own,” she said.
Days after she told me that, Kramer delivered with her first perfect 10 on floor.
Little did she know, she would leave her last meet ever with the best vault of her collegiate career.
She’s got a lot of time to reflect right now. She voices the questions that every senior is navigating.
“Did I live like I was not going to have gymnastics tomorrow?" she said. "Did I live in the present? Did I soak it all up?”
And she’s proud to say , the answer is yes. She truly did.
“I was able to leave the sport still loving it,” she said with a smile.
That’s why through these feelings of loss and heartbreak, she’s able to smile now, because Gracie Kramer truly left it all on the mat.