ASU gymnastics is on the road to a successful season, and part of this is thanks to Emily White.
A junior from Seal Beach, California, White made her college debut for the team two years ago. Ever since, she’s been a strong gymnast for the team with her success and passion growing every season.
Despite her college success, she was a late bloomer in the competitive sport. She didn’t start competitively until she was 9, and college gymnastics wasn’t always in her future.
“I actually wasn’t really set in doing college gymnastics until really late in the process,” White said. "I started the whole recruiting process pretty late as well. So when I was looking at colleges, there weren’t too many options left. And I actually, up until my senior year, I was considering not doing gymnastics.”
Even with her indecision, White stuck with the recruiting process. Deep down, she knew she wanted to continue the sport.
“There was kind of something inside of me that knew I hadn’t reached my full potential in the sport yet,” White said.
It’s a good thing she decided to continue the sport because White has been a valuable asset for the Sun Devils since day one. In her freshman debut against Oklahoma, she scored a team-high of 9.850 on bars. She also scored a career-high 9.925 on bars and a season-high 9.900 on beam in other competitions that year.
Fast forward to her junior season, she continues to maximize her potential. White took second in the all-around at the Super 16 on Jan. 7 in Las Vegas and scored the first 9.900 of the 2023 season.
Bars and beam have always been White's strengths, but she’s found herself developing into an all-around gymnast, in part thanks to Head Coach Jay Santos, and now competes in vault and floor.
“I never expected to compete vault in college. I guess Jay is just a really good vault coach. I got my full better than I’ve ever had it and now, I compete it every meet.”
This speaks volumes to the work and dedication White has put in to improve as a gymnast, and it doesn’t go unnoticed. White's teammate and junior Sarah Clark is the first to applaud White for her growth in and out of the gym.
“(White) came in with a one-year scholarship as well. She was not a full-ride athlete. She has definitely grown in confidence, being able to do all around," Clark said. "She’s someone that we all have no doubt she’s gonna get up there and hit. She came in and really earned her spots on the team and in the lineups.”
White has come a long way since her days in the club. She cites the transition from club to college as one of the hardest things about college gymnastics. There are more layers to the college sport, as there’s also a change in academics and the social scene.
White is tackling a biochemistry major and is a part of Barrett, The Honors College. Balancing her academics is something she’s been forced to learn.
“I am a procrastinator,” White said. "I just really like to write out a detailed to-do list in my planner. Academics just always comes first for me.”
At the right school, however, that transition becomes easier.
“It can be really difficult, but I think that it’s so much more fun once you get it figured out. Club is just an individual sport, so coming to college and finally having that team aspect to the sport is fun.”
ASU was the right school for White, and Santos knew that too. He started the recruiting process with White during her senior year and noticed her “pretty gymnastics.” While he knows she “probably didn’t have the most illustrious career,” he saw her potential and the room for her to be coached in a collegiate career.
Santos has seen White's confidence grow immensely and recognizes that she will be a big part of this season. The team has big aspirations for this year, including consistently ranking in the top 25, remaining competitive with the other Pac-12 schools, and making their way to nationals.
It’s been rewarding for Santos to see White progress.
“She’s got just beautiful gymnastics, and I think everyone’s really starting to see it," Santos said.
Despite the pressure that comes with these goals, gymnastics is still a source of joy for White. She continues to put her head down and keeps working hard for herself and her team, and her scores reflect this effort.
“You’re just striving for that perfect score always," White said. "You hit that handstand, you set that landing, just something about it, it’s so satisfying and it brings me a lot of joy.”
Edited by Kathryn Field, Jasmine Kabiri and Anusha Natarajan.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @kat_m67 on Twitter.
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