DENVER — For six straight years, University of Denver gymnastics and Lynnzee Brown have been synonymous.
"I never imagined I'd still be here," Brown said. "I didn't think I'd be here after my freshman year, let alone two extra years past my graduation."
Six years of breaking school records, like the team's all-around record of 39.825 (at home on March 7, 2021), hitting 10.00's on floor and bars (three times on floor, twice on bars), and even becoming the 2019 NCAA co-National Champion for floor exercise.
It was a national championship that came just days before she lost her mother Tamela to cardiac arrest, and just months before she tore her Achilles tendon for the first time. But yet, it's still a moment she remembers fondly.
"At that point, Lynnzee hadn't been through the upcoming traumas of the year, so it was a very happy moment," she said. "I look on it very fondly now knowing what she's gone through since then and knowing that she can do it again because she's stronger, she's more resilient, she's all of these things that me back then didn't have."
It's that same resiliency that she would lean on this past off-season to propel her past a second Achilles tear on her other leg, and back onto the floor. While the rehab was tougher this time around, the payoff was stronger when she eventually posted the region's top all-around score.
"Because I was struggling to come back from the injury as strong as I did last time, I was questioning if it was the right decision to come back [for a sixth and final year]," Brown said. "But now at this point, after I've seen how well I've done and how I did do it and I did prove myself wrong, I'm realizing it was not a wrong decision. It was definitely the right one."
With only one week left in her collegiate career, Brown is as methodical and mentally locked in as one can imagine.
"I'm a verbal cues kind of person. For bars, I have a speech that I always say. I say, 'tight form, confident, aggressive, I'm excited for this opportunity, one thing at a time.' Then I take a deep breath and then I say, 'practice how you want to compete,' and then when I'm in a competition, I say, 'compete like you practice,' so it's like a flip of the switch to get my mind going," she said.
Brown is taking time to reflect on her illustrious career and considering the legacy she wants to leave to the future Pios.
"We talk about tapping into our inner child, so on the floor, remembering those things," Brown said. "It's much more than gymnastics, so when we focus on that, this team always naturally does better."
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