After years of competing for her club, Riverside native Haley Scaman is discovering the atmosphere of competing for a college gymnastics team.
The Riverside Brookfield alumna is contributing for Oklahoma, which last week was the top-ranked team in the country, as a freshman. Scaman has been named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week four times this season and is ranked in the top five in the nation on floor exercise
Scaman is a product of the Illinois Gymnastics Institute in Westmont and had her pick of a number of top programs scattered across the country. She chose OU partially because her club teammate, Kayla Nowak of Algonquin, was already a Sooner and is currently a senior.
Adjusting to the frequent travel and responsibilities of being a college student has created new challenges for Scaman, but she had no problem getting used to the gymnastics side of it.
“It’s a totally different atmosphere,” Scaman said. “Collegiate gymnastics is more of a team thing than individual. There’s so many more people in the stands cheering for you.”
She started gymnastics at 8 years old, but has always had a tendency to be an active acrobat.
“Since I was little my mom always said I was flipping around and climbing on things,” Scaman said. “I just love tumbling.”
Three years ago, her national accolades began to accumulate. Scaman has three Level 10 national titles, 2010 on vault and 2011 on vault and bars, and won state championships in all events in 2011.
This season, Scaman is getting her feet wet in college gymnastics as a specialist. She is a regular on floor and vault, earning top-20 national rankings in both events, and also has been used on uneven bars.
She helped the Sooners go 19-1 in the regular season, only losing to Alabama on Friday. OU will compete against host Iowa State and West Virginia in this Saturday's Big 12 Championships in Ames, Iowa.
“It’s awesome,” Scaman said. “I never would have thought I would have been at a school that was ranked that high.”
In the preseason she said she spent 20 hours a week in the gym training, but during the season the hours are cut due to travel on most weekends. The training schedule was more rigorous in club, but as Scaman put it, it’s quality over quantity.
As the postseason nears she will get her first taste of big college meets.
“Everything is so different and new,” Scaman said. “It’s exciting. I’m looking forward to seeing how nationals will be and all that postseason stuff.”