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Sunday January 29th

UNC gymnastics senior Shailyn St. Brice displays resiliency throughout college career

Senior Shailyn St. Brice performs her floor routine during the Tar Heels' meet against West Virginia at Carmichael Arena on Feb. 24th, 2022. UNC lost 195.225 - 196.250.
Buy Photos Senior Shailyn St. Brice performs her floor routine during the Tar Heels' meet against West Virginia at Carmichael Arena on Feb. 24th, 2022. UNC lost 195.225 - 196.250.

Hailing from Mooresville, UNC gymnastics senior Shailyn St. Brice has experienced many ups and downs over the course of her four seasons.

During that time, she's changed schools, dealt with injuries and had her second season cut short.

Though she has seen significant success during her career, it has not come without its twists and turns.

“There have been a lot of times in my life and my journey (to UNC) where things didn’t go to plan and things didn’t go the way I wanted them to,” St. Brice said. “I still continued to push forward though, and made a way for it to happen.”

'Here I am today'

St. Brice set her mind on pursuing gymnastics at the age of 6.

Like many gymnasts, she said, she went through a phase of trying many other sports, but those didn't last long.

"I think after I went to gymnastics for the first time and had a really good time there, I kind of just stuck from there and then met great people and just enjoyed myself," St. Brice said. "And somehow, here I am today."

As a high school gymnast, St. Brice stood out at Lake Norman, qualifying for Eastern Nationals as a Level 9 gymnast in both 2014 and 2015.

Competing as a Level 10 gymnast in her final three years of high school, — qualifying for regionals in all three years — St. Brice’s standout moment came at the Elevate the Stage Invitational, where her 9.55 vault score tied for first place and helped earn her a fourth-place all-around finish.

Entering the 2018-19 season, there was mutual interest from then-UNC head coach Derek Galvin and St. Brice to join the Tar Heels, but by that time, all of UNC’s scholarships had already been taken up. 

Instead, she spent her first-year season at Western Michigan, competing on vault in every meet and on floor in 11 meets.

St. Brice won at a meet against Towson University with a score of 9.8. Throughout that year, she continued her excellence — both in gymnastics and in the classroom.

And by the end of her first year, she was accepted to UNC, joining the University's gymnastics team as a sophomore transfer.

'A sad thing to hear'

Once she got fully adjusted to UNC, St. Brice was ready to wear a Carolina Blue leotard in her second year of NCAA eligibility.

However, two meets into the year, injuries derailed her season. And just when St. Brice was ready to return to competition, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down her chances of coming back.

“Having the year taken away was definitely a sad thing to hear,” St. Brice said.

Though by that point, her time at North Carolina was not what she had envisioned, St. Brice said it wasn't the first time things in her life didn't go as planned.

She knew the only thing to do was push forward. So through her injuries and a disrupted season, St. Brice built even more of what she already had throughout her life — resilience.

When her junior year started up last season, she was excited to be competing again.  

"It just made it a lot easier to be thankful about being in the gym and having an opportunity to compete with all my teammates around me," St. Brice said.

Through all of the difficulty, St. Brice has continued to make the best of the situation and deliver for the Tar Heels now in what is potentially her final season with North Carolina gymnastics.

On Feb. 24, the team competed in its Senior Night meet against West Virginia at home. St. Brice delivered a score of 9.825, the second-highest of her career.

Galvin, her former coach, was in the audience.

During his 39 years as head coach, Galvin saw hundreds of gymnasts come through the UNC program. Still, he was overjoyed after watching St. Brice’s floor routine on Thursday.

“To see the expression on her face at the end of her routine, she knew that she had presented a great performance,” Galvin said. “The reaction of her team and her reaction to their reaction, that’s an image that I’ll have in my mind and my heart the rest of my life.”

To current UNC head coach Danna Durante, St. Brice is one of her senior gymnasts that she described as having "huge heart."

“(The seniors) really do care for this team," Durante said. "They care for each other, they care for this community.”

Despite St. Brice's long and winding career, her resilience and drive have made it nonetheless worthwhile.

@thenoahmonroe

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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