“When this all started to where I am now, I would have never imagined I would have been here,” says red-shirt freshman Bailey Lovett as she looks back on her first two seasons at Arkansas.
Bailey Lovett ended her redshirt freshman season on the All-SEC Freshman team, but her road to success as an Arkansas Razorback didn’t come without a price.
“We were in Barnhill for the first time and something happened on bars. I was like that’s not right, I don’t know what just happened,” Lovett recalls as she thinks about the incident in December of 2018 that changed the course of her career. She immediately went to the see the doctor.
“They looked at me and said ‘we’ve never seen this before. It looks like this part of your elbow is floating around.'”
After more x-rays and MRIs, she took the Christmas break to rest it. When she returned, she tried to see if she could make it through the season.
“I ended up being able to train enough to make floor lineups in that one meet, and then after that it was unmanageable pain. I was like ‘I can’t do it.'” she says.
Surgery was the only answer. Lovett underwent surgery on her elbow in early February to reattach her UCL. By the end of May she was able to do conditioning work
“When I was coming back, one of the things I learned was ‘OK it’s fixed. It is going to work. Trust it.’ I was still worried.”
By the beginning of August she start doing gymnastics again.
“The day I caught my first release on bars was one of the happiest days of my life,” Lovett remembers, “I was like ‘Yes! I can do it again.'”
As she prepared and trained to come back and compete in 2020, Lovett hit another road block.
“I ended up tweaking it and hurting it a little bit more. I was like ‘oh no, I’ve got to start over from zero.'”
And that’s when she started wearing a brace. She says she was reluctant at first. Thinking about being judged by other gymnasts for the way it looked. Arkansas Head Coach Jordyn Wieber assured her the brace on her arm was no different than braces gymnasts wore on their knees.
“Once I accepted that that was going to be my new normal, things started to come back,” Lovett says, “Slowly I was able to do gymnastics again.”
On January 10, 2020, Lovett stepped back on the mat..
“I remember talking to Sarah before I went on bars. I just looked at her and said ‘I think I am going to throw up’ but I had to go, so to hit that routine, I was like ‘yea I am back.'”
She didn’t score lower than an 9.825 during the 2020 season, and had 3 career highs and 3 event titles.
“I couldn’t have done it without Jordyn and Chris and Catelyn and every single one of my teammates helping through the hard days because there are still days where it is hard. My elbow hurts, but we are getting through it as a team.”
as Lovett looks towards her next 3 seasons, the sky is the limit.