Freshman Feature: University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Gymnast Rahdea Jarvis

FloGymnastics is starting a new series that showcases college gymnasts competing in their freshman season. This inaugural freshman feature highlights Rahdea Jarvis from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

A native of Brookfield, Wisconsin, Jarvis attended Brookfield Central High School before moving on to the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and is now making her college debut in a big way. She committed to Oshkosh in May 2018, deciding to attend the school after realizing she wanted to compete gymnastics somewhere close to home.  

In club gymnastics, Jarvis’ strengths were always floor and vault, and that has carried over to her college career. Jarvis is a strong all-around gymnast as well, and although she shines on floor and vault, she certainly does not let any event slip away from her in competition. Before beginning collegiate gymnastics, she competed for M&M Gymnastics in New Berlin, Wisconsin. 

Jarvis’ biggest accomplishments in club gymnastics were taking first on vault, third on bars and fifth all-around at the 2015 Wisconsin State Championships; first on vault at the 2015 Region 4 Championships; and third on vault at the Western Championships the same year with a 9.625. She tied for third on vault at the 2017 Wisconsin State Championships and entered level 10 in 2018. Her 2018 season was a strong one, where she took fourth on vault; second on bars, beam and all-around; and first on floor at the Charity Choice Invitational. She went on to take second on floor at the Northern Lights Classic and third on floor at the Lucky Invitational. At State Championships, she placed third on vault as well as fifth all-around, then qualified for Regional Championships, where she competed to end her senior season. 

She joins UW Oshkosh alongside a large incoming freshman class, as one of eight new competitors to the team. The other freshmen are Emily Gilot, Kaira Hammond, Olivia Keller, Skylar Manning, Haley Minor, Rachel Morris and Alyssa Nore. Jarvis has stated that her favorite part about college so far is meeting all of her friends and teammates and this freshman class is sure to be a big part of that, as they have bonded over the short months they have known each other to come together as a team. Skill-wise, this year’s incoming class has added a lot of strength to UWO’s team, and Jarvis is no exception. 

UW-Oshkosh has competed in six meets so far this season, starting with a meet against Hamline University on Jan. 6. At this mee,  Jarvis gave her college debut and took third on bars with a 9.200. The Titans’ next competitions were at University of Illinois Chicago, a quad meet where Jarvis competed only vault and received a 9.025, and a meet against Gustavus Adolphus College, where she competed vault, bars and floor.

Jarvis’ season continued at the UW Eau Claire meet on Jan. 25, where she took first on floor, showcasing her ability on that event. She received a season high of 9.625, an impressive feat for someone who has gone through the challenges she has this season.

Next, the team competed on Feb. 1 against Winona State University, where Rahdea took third on bars with a 9.025. Oshkosh’s most recent competition against UW La Crosse was this freshman’s best meet so far. It was the first meet she competed in all four events, and she showed up ready to have a great day. She achieved her season highs on multiple events including vault, bars and beam. She received a 9.375 on both vault and bars, and although her beam score was not quite what she wanted, it was her first time competing beam this season, so getting through the routine and setting a base score was an achievement on its own. Her performances on all four events gave her second all-around as well as increased confidence going into future meets. 

Talking with Jarvis showed how easily she is adapting to DIII gymnastics, her teammates and the new atmosphere of college gymnastics. She is excited for the rest of her collegiate career, and we are excited to watch her grow.

FloGymnastics: What has your favorite meet been so far?

Rahdea Jarvis: My favorite meet this season was definitely our first home meet against Gustavus Adolphus. This was the first time I got to compete on our own equipment and with all of my friends and family watching. The atmosphere was incredible and nothing like anything I’ve ever experienced before.

Flo: How did it feel to get your first score over 9.500 in a recent meet?

RJ: Receiving my first score over a 9.500 was indescribable. The beginning of the season was tough on me because I split my toe open during warm-ups in our season opener. I had to leave the meet early and get five stitches in the bottom of my big toe, which caused me to be unable to compete floor to my full potential for the next couple meets. So to be able to get my season high score with five stitches still in the bottom of my foot was definitely the biggest highlight of my entire gymnastics career thus far.

Flo: What is your major/minor and why did you choose that?

RJ: I am a pre-business major, hoping to get my degree in business management with a minor in Marketing. After I graduate, I plan on continuing my education and getting my master’s degree in sports management with hopes to become involved in the professional sports industry.

Flo: What is one thing that is unique about your team?

RJ: Whether it is to a popular rap song or even to “Cotton Eyed Joe,” you can always find our team dancing and singing. When I say always, I mean ALWAYS. We dance at practice, at the dining halls, at meets, on the bus and especially in the dorms.

Flo: Everyone plays a role on a team. Where do you see yourself fitting in as a teammate?

RJ: My goal as a teammate is to make sure that all of my teammates are happy and have a smile on their face. At practice you can always find me dancing, singing and laughing. Even when I am not having the best day or practice, I will still always try to keep the energy level high in the gym.

Flo: What is your favorite sport to watch besides gymnastics?

RJ: One thing I love about Oshkosh is how close all of the athletes are. We all try to go out and support as many other UWO sports as we can. I would say my favorite sports to go and watch would be basketball and track and field.

Flo: What has college gymnastics taught you so far?

RJ: College gymnastics has taught me a lot of things, but I would say the most important lesson is how important teamwork is. There are some days when I go into the gym and am not feeling 100 percent or my mind is just not entirely at practice, but I know that I can always count on my teammates to help pick me up and get my head back in the game and they know that they can always count on me to do the same.

Flo: What is one thing you love about college gymnastics that is different than club?

RJ: I would say that the thing that I love so much about college gymnastics as compared to club gymnastics is the increased team dynamic. As a team we are all always there for each other no matter and our team performance is equally, if not more, important than each person’s individual performance.

Flo: What is your end goal for the 2019 season, both as a team and personally?

RJ: Oshkosh is hosting Division III Nationals this year, so our team motto this season is “Road to Home.” If we continue to train hard and improve our performance week by week, I see us making it home on March 23. My personal end goal for the season is to finish out the regular season strong on my events and hopefully be able to compete for a national title.

Flo: What is your favorite skill to compete?

RJ: My favorite event to compete is definitely floor without question. I would say my favorite specific skill to compete would have to be any type of double back.

Flo: What is one interesting fact about you, either as a gymnast or unrelated to the sport? 

RJ: An interesting fact about me would have to be that my dad played in the NFL for nine years. This caused me to become a sports fanatic from a young age. In my free time you can almost always find me watching sports or looking at stats. My favorite sports are football, basketball, tennis and, of course, gymnastics.

Miranda Martin is a freelance writer who writes about gymnastics, social justice issues, and more. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, or contact her through her website.

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