NORMAN — Every athlete wants to finish their careers on their own terms. Whether it’s high school, college or the pros, each wants to walk into the sunset after having the best season of their life.
Kayla Nowak is no different. The Oklahoma gymnast had planned on her senior season with the Sooners being the crowning moment of a gymnastics career.
However, a freak accident before the season even began kept Nowak from having that dream walk-off. But in the process, the Algonquin, Ill. native may have learned just how strong she has become.
“Kayla obviously has a huge heart,” OU coach K.J. Kindler said. “What happened to her this year was unexpected, kind of heart-wrenching to be honest with you. She has stuck in there with us. Hasn’t missed a beat. She has been a huge support system for these guys. She has been an inspiration for our whole team this season.”
No. 2 Oklahoma (17-0) will host its final meet of the season at 2:30 p.m. when it takes on No. 9 Stanford and North Carolina at Lloyd Noble Center.
It’s also Senior Day and Nowak will be one of the three who will be honored. What was already going to be an emotional day is going to be even more so for Nowak as she flashes back to Dec. 11 when a simple practice session went horribly wrong.
“It was finals week and I was doing a bar routine,” Nowak said. “I just kind of went early on a release and hit my feet on the bar. It kind of counter-rotated me and I landed on the upper part of my back and my feet went over my head. I would have been fine if I had landed completely flat on my back, but it was just at the wrong angle. Just kind of got unlucky in how I fell.”