NORMAN — Michael Taylor Squires had all but given up gymnastics. After graduating from high school in 2011, the Edmond native was all set to become a full-time student and get ready for the real world.
However, Squires decided he wasn’t ready to turn his back on his passion for gymnastics. He had been competing in the sport since he was 8 years old and wanted to give it one last shot.
“I definitely could have gone to many other places,” Squires said. “I applied to a few other colleges for Petroleum Engineering. I was offered pretty big scholarships. I wasn’t offered any big ones here. I could have gone out of state and that would have been really fun to do. But when you are committed to a sport for so long, it’s hard to let go. You want to give it a last try.”
Squires chose to become a walk-on last season. But he wasn’t going to just walk on anywhere. He wanted to do it at Oklahoma, the country’s top program. One that has eight national championships and has produced numerous All-Americans.
“It was extremely intimidating,” Squires said. “When I first got here in the summer, the new freshmen were walking in and they were faces I recognized in international gymnastics magazines. Having to look at those guys and know I have to fight them for a spot. They are already promised positions. It’s a total gamble whether you are going to make the team or not. It’s tough, but it actually makes the reward so much better. Rather than being given a spot and treating it like I don’t have to work as hard, when you are a walk on and finally make it, you appreciate it so much more.”