There is something almost indescribable about a stuck landing inside of a sold-out Huntsman Center.

When a gymnast flies through the air, a hush falls over the crowd — the largest in NCAA gymnastics — and then the moment her feet glue themselves to the mat, a roar breaks out among the Utah faithful that is not unlike a hurricane.

It doesn’t matter the event, the reaction is the same, and because of the complicated nature of gymnastics, sticks are arguably the easiest way for fans to judge a good routine from a great one.

This season, every stick by a Utah gymnast carries with it extra meaning, beyond simply the quality of the routine. That is because Utah gymnastics’ coaching staff has pledged to donate $22 to the Ty Jordan and Aaron Lowe Memorial Scholarship fund — Jordan and Lowe were Utah football players who both wore jersey No. 22 and tragically died in separate events in the last 13 months — for every stuck landing.

In truth, the donations are only a small part of what the Red Rocks are doing to honor Jordan and Lowe during the 2022 season.

Every meet, the gymnasts are wearing temporary No. 22 tattoos on the middle of their backs. The team has also had shirts made to honor the deceased and talks frequently about the need to be 22% better every day, borrowing that idea from Utah’s football team.

Most recently, the Red Rocks altered their team slogan for the year. Little to Legendary (#L2L) was the original theme, but now it is #L22L in memory of Jordan and Lowe.

“We had a lot of girls who were really close to Aaron, especially, who took his passing really really hard,” senior Sydney Soloski said. “(His death) was a really significant moment in our team’s preseason. Obviously the football team went through it — every team did — but it definitely impacted us and we wanted to remind them and everyone that we miss him. 

“It hurts. The entire athletic community has mourned together and it just felt right for us have this bigger idea above us. There is a lot more to each of us than sport, and it just felt really natural and right. Obviously seeing how his passing affected everyone, I think it is the perfect way to honor him while doing what we love.”

Wanting to be legendary

The $22 donations will have the most tangible impact — “As coaches we are going to be writing some checks,” Utah head coach Tom Farden said. “Those kids are going to make us pay,” — but the alteration of the team slogan means a great deal to the Red Rocks.

Before the preseason every year, Utah holds a team retreat, and it is there that the gymnasts come together and decide what they want to work for in the upcoming season, who they want to be.

Every gymnast’s voice is heard, countless ideas bandied about. It took a little while, but the Red Rocks ultimately decided that the 2022 season is all about becoming legendary.

Every day during practice inside the Dumke Center, they look up and see banners and are reminded of the legacy of Utah’s gymnastics program. Often, they struggle to feel like a part of that legacy, but this year they want to ensure their place in the rafters.

“Someone threw out the word legendary, and that immediately hit because everyone here wants to be legendary,” senior Alexia Burch said.

“We are at such a legendary program, and a lot of times as an athlete here you lose sight of the fact you are a part of that legacy,” Soloski added. “So we had this idea, let’s be legendary. Let’s do this together. ... We can be the team that people talk about, a team that people will recognize when they look up at the banners.”

To a gymnast, the Red Rocks believe the 2022 team is special, unlike the teams that came before and unlikely to be replicated by later versions.

“We feel like this team is legendary, and we will never have a team like this again,” sophomore Jaylene Gilstrap said. “Every single girl is super spectacular. We have the potential to win the NCAA. We want to build on the legacy here and win (a national title) again. This team is the one to do it.”

Once they were little

As for the little part of the team slogan, the gymnasts wanted to remember where they came from, even as they have their eyes set on future glory.

After all, every one of them once was a tiny little gymnast in a saggy leotard with lofty dreams, whether it be competing in the Olympics or as college gymnasts.

And today, every one of them is living out their dream or has a legitimate chance to make it come true.

“I dreamed since I was little of being a part of a college team, and so has everyone here,” Gilstrap said. “Starting as little gymnasts in diapers, we all had the dream of being here, and now that we are here, we want to remember the little girl.”

And hopefully inspire future gymnasts along the way.

“We wanted to make the little gymnast in us proud, making all the work worth it in the end, and be role models for little gymnasts who will hopefully become legendary for themselves,” junior Cristal Isa said.

Adding the 22

The team slogan was perfect, or so the Red Rocks thought. That is until, while working on another team project, assistant coach Carly Dockendorf had the idea to change it from #L2L to #L22L, in honor of Jordan and Lowe.

“I had originally been talking to her about a completely different project to write little notes to each other each week,” Burch explained, “but during that process, we started talking about these pictures where we had words we wrote about each other, words like confident and strong.

“We were putting the #L2L at the bottom of it. Then Carly was like, ‘Why don’t we change it to honor them and inspire student-athletes on our campus?’ It was almost a no-brainer.”

When Dockendorf brought the idea to the team, there was unanimous support. It just felt right to honor Jordan and Lowe in that way.

“It was a special moment,” Gilstrap said. “All of us were impacted, and (Jordan and Lowe) were such a big part of Utah sports. Having our team have a way to help continue on their legacy was just very special.”

“I think the world works in mysterious ways,” added Soloski. “It is obviously still our slogan, but having the 22 we felt was really impactful.”