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‘The ultimate teammate’: Nya Reed hits floor running in return to gymnastics

Graduate student Nya Reed (right) competes on floor while freshman Sydney Barros (left) cheers her on. (Myka Fromm/Photo editor)

By Genevieve Trimbell

Feb. 22, 2024 5:13 p.m.

Nya Reed hadn’t trained gymnastics for an entire year.

At her first conditioning set at UCLA six months ago, she nearly passed out.

But today, the graduate student shares a top-10 national ranking on floor. She earned a Pac-12 Specialist of the Week award two weeks ago. She is averaging above 9.800 on vault and floor.

“I’m definitely happier than I’ve ever been,” Reed said.

Reed competed at Florida for four years before taking a year off during the 2023 season. In those years, she was a six-time All-American, a four-time SEC Specialist of the Week and earned two perfect 10s on floor.

But a year off of gymnastics can prove fatal for some gymnasts’ careers.

Coach Janelle McDonald said when she first got in touch with Reed about a potential transfer to UCLA, she asked the former Gator what her gymnastics training had looked like during her year off of competition.

When Reed responded that she hadn’t been in the gym, but she would work hard to get her gymnastics back, McDonald said she knew that Reed’s work ethic would fit in with the Bruin culture.

At the midpoint of the season, McDonald said this has proven to be true.

“The energy she brings every day and the work ethic she puts into her training is inspiring, especially after taking that time off,” McDonald said. “She’s just the ultimate teammate. I think the best thing I can say about her is she shows up every day for her team.”

Through the first seven meets of the 2024 season, Reed has competed on vault and floor in nearly every meet and has only scored under 9.900 on the latter once. She earned the Pac-12 Specialist of the Week award in her fifth meet back.

Her 10.0 start-value vault has been invaluable for the Bruins, for whom vault was their lowest-ranked event in the previous season. Their 2024 average is already nearly a tenth higher than their 2023 average on the event.

Sophomore Selena Harris, who competes the same vault as Reed – a Yurchenko 1.5 – said having increased communication on the team has contributed to its success.

“That was very helpful, just communicating what we’re seeing with each other, because we’re all doing the same vault,” Harris said. “We’ve just been working on getting in all our details and stuff – and man, it’s so good.”

The Bruins have been famous in recent years for viral floor routines, and, this year, Reed has continued the tradition. Her floor routine, inspired by her Divine Nine sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, gained millions of views before the season began.

Reed said she got to see some of her inspirations at the alumni meet Monday.

“Seeing the African American women that came before me here, they have been so much help,” Reed said. “Making sure you know, y’all got this, push, you know it’s hard, but y’all can do it.”

With the last of her NCAA eligibility gone after this season, Reed has just a few meets left before her gymnastics career is over.

But she said right now, she’s just focusing on what she can do to help her team this season.

“Being able to come back and do the best that I possibly can do and be where I am right now is an amazing accomplishment for me.”

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Genevieve Trimbell | Sports contributor
Trimbell is currently a contributor on the gymnastics and rowing beats.
Trimbell is currently a contributor on the gymnastics and rowing beats.
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