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Waterhouse shines in Gators debut

Pressure tends to be revealing. It strips an individual down to his or her most primal responses. Kill or be killed, or, in athletics, succeed or fail.

Pressure tends to be revealing. It strips an individual down to his or her most primal responses. Kill or be killed, or, in athletics, succeed or fail.
Kara Waterhouse is no stranger to pressure. The University of Florida freshman often faced tense times as a budding gymnastics starlet, standing alone on the floor under the critical examination of judges.
But nothing Waterhouse had experienced prepared her for the pressure she faced on Saturday, when the individual sport she learned in Duluth suddenly became a team game at the Super Six Challenge in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
"You have no choice but to put forth a full effort," said Waterhouse, a Marshall School graduate. "It's so much different from club gymnastics in that way."
"I've always been an individual. Now, I have a whole team."
And the pressure to succeed for her teammates was just a part of the tension. There were also 9,000 people in the stands watching her every move.
It was quite an introduction to Division I college gymnastics.
"I've never been so excited to compete," said Waterhouse. "But I was really nervous."
Luckily for her and her teammates, it didn't affect her performance. Waterhouse, one of only two Florida freshmen scheduled to compete all-around, placed third in the uneven bars standings and helped lead Florida to a respectable fifth-place finish at the meet, which featured six teams in the nation's top 10.
"I wish I could have been a little bit more calm," said Waterhouse. "But I feel like it was a good meet for me."
Her coach, Judi Markell thought the same.
"I was very encouraged by what I saw from this team," she said in a post-meet release. "The freshmen that competed tonight, Kara Waterhouse and Erin Pendleton, performed very well."
Waterhouse, however, gave much of the credit back to her coaches.
"Everything they made us do -- the weight lifting and all the conditioning -- that was a really good move on their part. They prepared us very well."
They also helped encourage the growth of the team's ever-strengthening bond, which is making Waterhouse's transition from club gymnast to collegiate star-to-be that much easier.
"I'm so happy that I chose Florida," she said. "Our team is so classy. I couldn't imagine having chosen a better group of people to be working with."
After Saturday's performance, her teammates probably can't help but feel the same about her. Especially when the pressure's on.

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