No pun intended, but Tyler gymnast Emily Rickman was floored the first time she visited Utah State's campus. Having never been to the Beehive State before, she quickly fell for the mountainous landscape.
"When I went up there the town I found was really quiet and quaint," Rickman said. "It's only about 50,000 people, which is a lot smaller than Tyler. Since it is so small, it really supports the school. Everyone there supports the school and it's really, really gorgeous."
On Wednesday afternoon, Rickman decided to make Logan, Utah, her next home by signing a national letter of intent with Utah State. Alongside fellow gymnasts and family, the Robert E. Lee senior made the decision official at her home away from home — Texas East Gymnastics.
"She's the first girl to go that far west," Texas East director and coach Martin Parsley told those on hand. "Everyone else seems to go north or east from this gym. … It's been wonderful, and we've got this year to continue onward."
Rickman, a level 10 gymnast, plans to compete in all-around for the Aggies while majoring in biology and minoring in business. According to an internet biography, she moved up to Level 10 in 2010 and won the vault, beam and floor at the Rose City Invitational.
And in 2011, Rickman placed fourth in all-around at regionals to qualify for the JO nationals in Long Beach, Calif. She'll be on a full scholarship at Utah State, which competes in the Western Athletic Conference and finished the 2012 season ranked No. 47 in the Troes-ter/GymInfo Women's Gymnastics Coaches Poll.
"It's a very strong gym program, so I'm so honored to be able to contribute to them," Rickman said. "The coaches and the gymnasts were all super nice. It felt like I really fit in with the girls. That's what I've always looked for."
According to her biography, Rickman is ranked in the top 10 of her class at REL and skipped the eighth grade.
Rickman's parents thanked Texas East and the Tyler Independent School District in addressing the audience.
"This gym is like a family," Rickman's mom said. "It's been a family to us. Martin and Stacy (Parsley) are like second parents. … This is just a class place to be."
Added Rickman about signing a scholarship: "I'm so overwhelmed right now because ever since I was 4 years old and starting out here, I dreamed of going to the Olympics and going to college. Martin and Stacy are like my second parents."