It’s a good thing that Trinity Thomas is used to balancing.
The stand-out University of Florida and Team USA gymnast has done one of the most difficult – and rare – balancing acts in her sport: collegiate and elite level gymnastics simultaneously.
Thomas, just 19-years-old, came to Florida as a three-time member of the U.S. senior national team and wasn’t ready to walk away from elite level competition.
“I wasn't quite done, so I decided that I was going to do both,” Thomas told Olympic Channel. “My personal perspective on gymnastics has changed a lot since I've gotten older, and I just knew that I had an opportunity that most people don't get. I knew that if I didn't take advantage of that opportunity, I would regret it later.”
So she seized the opportunity and made her fourth senior U.S. team in August 2019, following her freshman year.
“A lot of my routines we built so that they're a base routine for my elite season,” Thomas said of how she balances the need for two different sets of routines. “If you think about it, I'm just doing like the basics over and over and over again and perfecting that. So, then, it's even easier to add those other skills for elite.”
Still, she hopes that her example proves what is possible in a sport and country where many women feel like they have to choose one or the other.
“I honestly think most people think they can't,” said Thomas. “I was told that I couldn't do it, but here I am.
“I just want to be that person that [shows] you can do anything,” she continued. “If you're going to put the work in and you're going to work for it, you can do it. So I just I want all the little girls to know that whatever they set their mind to, whatever they're willing to work for, they can get it done.”
What she wants to get done in 2021 is, unsurprisingly, what her 2020 goals were: help her collegiate team win team titles at the SEC and NCAA champions, then qualify to the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Thomas – and her teammates – are fuelled by two years of frustration. In 2019, Florida entered the post-season ranked fourth but failed to qualify to the NCAA Championships after a rough performance at their Regional. Thomas advanced as an individual.
Then, in 2020, Florida looked on track to contend with Oklahoma for another national title before the season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I feel like we've had to overcome a lot,” Thomas said. “My freshman year, we didn't make it as a team. Sophomore year, we got cut short because of other things that were going on. So I think, third time's the charm and we'll get out there and get it done this year.”