Watkins Shines During Sophomore Campaign for Pack Gymnastics
Feb. 17, 2014
RALEIGH, N.C. - Sophomore Brittni Watkins of the NC State gymnastics team has become a shining star for the squad throughout the first half of the 2014 season.
With several talented teammates sidelined with sickness or injuries during the early portions of the season, Watkins has competed in every event for the Wolfpack in her first year competing as an all-arounder and has had tremendous success.
Watkins, a native of Albany, N.Y., has thrived competing as an all-arounder, setting a mark higher than a 39.400 in four different meets this season, including a career high 34.425 in a Feb. 1 home meet against Missouri. That mark is tied for 10th on the program’s all-time charts in the all-around competition. In addition, she has captured the Eastern Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) Gymnast of the Week honor three of the first five weeks this season.
An All-EAGL selection on vault and floor exercise in 2013, Watkins has finished on the podium a team-leading 31 times this season, including a first-place finish in an impressive 16 events.
Watkins says her favorite event to compete on is the floor exercise, where she can truly put on a show for fans. This season, Watkins has posted four first-place finishes and has earned a score of 9.900 in three consecutive meets.
The sophomore is not just thriving on the floor exercise this season, but every event in which she competes. She has also finished in first three times this season on the balance beam, as well as three times each on the uneven parallel bars and vault.
“Brittni is just having a phenomenal year,” said head coach Mark Stevenson earlier this season. "She is doing everything we ask of her and doing it at an extremely high level."
This season, Watkins ranks fourth in the southeast region on the balance beam, while also ranking inside the top 10 on vault, floor and the all-around.
Watkins first became interested in gymnastics at the age of three after learning to ice skate.
“I started competing at the gym level in Saratoga and later in Latham at World Class Gymnastics,” Watkins said. “The competition there helped me more than anything.”
The sophomore sought a college scholarship in her own time by sending videos to college coaches of her choice. The proof of her gymnastics talent was evident and quickly noticed by schools throughout the country.
“Coaches responded to me via email,” Watkins added. “NC State, West Virginia and Maryland were my top three choices.”
The sophomore chose State because of the family atmosphere that was evident throughout her recruiting visits.
“The team acted more as a family – like sisters,” Watkins recalled. “It was a big adjustment being away from home all the time at first, but it’s been an awesome life-changing experience. I’ve learned quite a bit in my short amount of time here.”
Watkins noted another major difference to competing in gymnastics at the collegiate level and the club level is the practice time. In college, teams are limited based on NCAA rules to the number of hours they can practice. At the club level, it was typical for gymnasts to train for six hours a day after school.
“It’s a much different experience to be a part of practices in college than it was at club,” Watkins noted.
Watkins, a sport management major, has also adjusted well to life in Raleigh academically. Last year as a freshman, Watkins was named to the All-EAGL Academic team.