The Norman Transcript

Sports

February 20, 2013

No. 2 Oklahoma wants to become a fan favorite

Sooners set to face No. 5 UCLA in top-5 battle

NORMAN — The Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team has a secret. It’s one that seemingly no one on campus or around the state has found out over the last few years no matter how much they’ve let it slip.

The big secret is that the second-ranked Sooners are good. Not just good, but one of the best teams in the nation over the past four seasons.

“When I came to Oklahoma we wanted to break into the Super Six, which we did my freshman year,” senior Brie Olson said. “We ended up finishing second. We just wanted to prove that Oklahoma has a chance to win a national championship because they are bringing in top recruits and they are performing the same as Florida, UCLA, Georgia and Alabama. But we don’t get quite the recognition that other teams do because we don’t have the big names. But we are just as good.”

However, while Oklahoma has raised its game to compete with the powerhouses in the SEC and PAC-12, there is one area it’s still lagging way behind. That’s in attendance. Getting fans to come out and watch the Sooners compete has been a battle coach K.J. Kindler has fought since she arrived in 2006.

“Honestly, it’s possibly one of our biggest tasks and one of our most difficult tasks,” Kindler said. “I don’t think selling gymnastics is difficult. It’s a beautiful sport. When people come to watch it, they just want to come back. But getting that first-time viewer, someone to come in one time and just realize what an amazing thing it is.”

In 2012, the University of Utah led all of women’s gymnastics in attendance with an average of 13,515 fans per home meet. The SEC rounded out the top four with Alabama (12,826), Georgia (8,768), Florida (6,126) and Auburn (4,520). Oklahoma was 18th with 1,622 fans per home meet. The only other team from the Big 12 in the top-20 was Iowa State.

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