Both of her parents are U alumni and all of her siblings are either currently attending or have already graduated from the U, but for Mary Beth Lofgren, it wasn’t assumed that she would be a Ute.
Growing up in Salt Lake City, she kept her options open regarding the school she’d attend, just in case she wasn’t offered a scholarship at Utah. Once she got an offer with a big, red U on it, it was a done deal.
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“There wasn’t even a second thought,” Lofgren said. “I’ve always been a Ute, so it just seemed natural. It seemed like I was always supposed to be here.”
The concept of family is important to Lofgren, and she takes great pride in attending the same school as her parents and siblings and continuing the Ute legacy.
The junior in health promotion and education said she also received some career inspiration from a family member. Her mother was a nurse, and as a little girl, Lofgren would dream of being just like her. Now, the childhood dreams have evolved into something more.
“Now it’s something I really want to do,” she said. “I enjoy helping people.”
Lofgren’s desire to achieve that goal is made apparent by her success in the classroom. Last semester, she was one of three Ute gymnasts to have a 4.0 GPA. In 2012 she also received the Dahl Academic Award as the team’s top student-athlete in addition to making the dean’s list and the athletic directors honor roll.
“I have my mom, dad and three brothers who are pretty incredible people, and they’re definitely a motivation [for me],” she said.
Although her family lives close by, Lofgren spends much of her time with a different kind of family — her team.
“[Lofgren’s] definitely a leader,” sophomore Kassandra Lopez said. “She’s a role model. When I was a freshman here she was like my big sister so I really looked up to her in that way. She works super hard and I could always go to her for anything and I know she’ll be there and she’ll help.”
Having a close bond with her teammates is one of the things Lofgren enjoys most about her sport. She started gymnastics at the age of three in part because her mother was also a gymnast in college and she said there was a sense of “sisterhood” that made her feel like she belonged as a gymnast.
When she came to the U, her outlook changed just a little bit, as she came to appreciate the opportunity she has gotten to perform specifically as a U gymnast.
“[I loved] being part of a team and having that kind of sisterhood, just being a part of something that you contribute to,” Lofgren said. “But now it’s definitely being part of the Utah legacy and having all the fans. It’s pretty incredible to be in the Huntsman Center with 15,000 people.”
But the bond with her teammates is no less important. Lofgren understands that her role is inherently different as an upperclassman, and she doesn’t take it lightly. She referred to freshman Breanna Hughes as another one of her “little sisters” whom she’s taken under her wing and she knows that her leadership and example are important.
“She really cares about this sport and this team quite a bit,” junior Hailee Hansen said. “She’s always putting gymnastics first and really putting herself into this as much as she can. Sometimes that’s hard to find because it gets really monotonous, but she gives it her all every single day. That’s really admirable, and I think she’s someone to look up to.”
Hansen has known Lofgren since the two came to the U in 2011. They had competed against each other in high school but had never met. Now they have become good friends and sometimes joke about being twins since they have similar features and sometimes get mistaken for each other. Lofgren likes to bring some lightheartedness to the gym and both she and Hansen like to laugh, joke and dance around during training.
“She’s got some pretty funny dance moves,” Hansen said.
Even through all the laughter, Lofgren works hard to excel in her sport. Prior to the first meet of the year, she was chosen to fill in for Lopez, who had hurt her calf in practice. Lopez was slated to be an all-arounder this year and Lofgren hadn’t competed in all four events since her freshman year when she scored a 39.225 against Stanford.
Even so, she was ready to step up to the plate for her teammates. She got off to a rough start when she fell on bars as the leadoff gymnast for Utah, but her scores got progressively better through the night. The early struggles were hard to shake off though, as she was not selected as an all-around competitor in the Utes’ home opener last week.
No matter how many events she competes in, Lofgren is just glad to be competing for a school that she loves and with teammates she calls her sisters.
“It’s really cool that I got the chance to do the all-around … but I’m just happy to be here contributing where I can,” she said.