FORT WORTH, Texas — Grace McCallum couldn’t say enough about her first season of college gymnastics.
Standing on the floor of Dickies Arena in the aftermath of the 2022 NCAA women’s gymnastics championships, McCallum couldn’t have hid her joy if she’d tried.
One year in, and it is abundantly clear that McCallum — a freshman at the University of Utah — loves just about everything that comes with being a Red Rock and competing at the collegiate level.
“This experience is nothing like anything else I’ve ever done,” McCallum told the Deseret News.
“The team atmosphere is so amazing. Knowing that you have your team’s support no matter what is so amazing. I thought (the championships) were so fun. It was all an amazing experience.”
McCallum has had her fair share of “amazing experiences” doing gymnastics, though.
One of those, famously, was competing for Team USA at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Almost immediately after conclusion of those Games, McCallum and fellow U.S. Olympians-turned-NCAA gymnasts Sunisa Lee, Jade Carey and Jordan Chiles were all asked whether or not they’d compete at the 2024 Olympics in Paris, France (earlier this year, Team USA clarified how gymnasts can compete in college and at the elite level during the same year).
That remains a possibility for McCallum, but she will not be headed back to elite gymnastics or U.S. national team camp this summer.
Instead, McCallum is going to take some time off.
“I’ve definitely thought about (going back to elite),” McCallum said, “but no, I’m not, not right now.
“It is not out of the question in the future, but this year I’m going to take a break, get some mental and physical rest.”
McCallum explained that she has been training gymnastics for five consecutive summers with little to no break, and while she enjoyed it, right now she wants to do something else.
“I just want to enjoy life for a little bit,” she said. “Not that I wasn’t enjoying it before, but competing and doing full training every summer for the last five years has been a lot.”
Both Carey (Oregon State) and Chiles (UCLA) are going back to the elite ranks this year.
In late March, Chiles told Scott Bregman of Olympics.com, “I am going to try for worlds this year. That is something that I put my eye on and I will. I keep telling everybody, I’m not done. I feel like I haven’t accomplished something. Yes, I did go to the Olympics, but for me, I feel like I’m not done with the elite world quite yet.”
Carey, meanwhile, announced her decision over Twitter earlier this month, writing “NCAA gymnastics is and continues to be an incredible experience... I am excited to announce that I will be pursuing elite gymnastics while remaining dedicated to my GymBeav family. I felt it important for this announcement to come from me as I proudly accepted my invitation to national team camp.”
Lee hasn’t made any decision about her future public, but per ESPN, told her head coach at Auburn — Jeff Graba — that she hopes that competing at the NCAA level will pay off for her come the Paris Olympics.
“I don’t think I’ve reached my full potential yet. I have so much more in me,” Lee said.
McCallum has nothing but respect and admiration for her former Olympic teammates, but her decision is her own, and she is happy about it.
“Kudos to them for going back, but I want to be able to enjoy the summer and do fun things,” she said with a laugh. “That sounds good to me.”