Silver medal in hand, Grace McCallum is ready to become a Red Rock.
McCallum, 18, helped USA Gymnastics win a silver medal in the women’s team competition on July 27 at the Tokyo Olympics. But after a brief stop in New York City and just enough time to gather her things at home in Minnesota, she’ll be bound for the University of Utah where she’ll begin classes as a freshman at the end of the month.
“I’m just excited to go on a whole new journey and experience new things,” McCallum said during an interview earlier this week with NBC News at Rockefeller Center.
She said she’s already received “so many” texts from her Utah teammates.
Among them will be two athletes who made the trip to Tokyo. One is Kara Eaker, an Olympic alternate for Team USA. Her father said she’s excited to get started with the Red Rocks after she returned early from Japan shortly after becoming the first American athlete to test positive for COVID-19 in Tokyo. The other is bronze medalist Amelie Morgan. Morgan, who helped Great Britain win its first medal since 1928 in the team competition, officially signed with Utah on Friday.
“We are beyond thrilled to have Amelie Morgan join our program,” Red Rocks head coach Tom Farden said in a press release. “Her contributions at the Tokyo Olympic Games helped Team Great Britain to a historic team medal. She is known for her work ethic and unshakeable determination.”
The additions should again make the defending champion Red Rocks one of the powerhouses in Pac-12 competition, where McCallum will cross paths with a couple of her Olympic teammates. Jade Carey, who won gold in the individual floor exercise in Tokyo, will compete for Oregon State. Jordan Chiles, who was part of the group that won silver in the team exercise despite being shaken by the withdrawal of team leader Simone Biles because of mental health struggles, will compete for UCLA.
“We’ll see each other more,” Chiles said. “It’s gonna be interesting. I mean, it’s gonna be weird that we be like, ‘Hey, like, we’re at this little meet. What are you doing? Long time no see.’”
Missing from those meets this season, as she has been since 2019, will be MyKayla Skinner. Skinner announced last month that she will not return to collegiate competition, though she will return to Utah to finish out her degree in broadcast journalism
Skinner won two Pac-12 all-around titles, two vault titles and three floor titles while with the Red Rocks. She left in 2019 to focus on returning to the Olympics after being an alternate in 2016 and the move paid off when she replaced Biles in the vault competition in Tokyo and won silver.
Her departure opened up a spot on the team for Morgan.
With McCallum, Eaker and Morgan all just 18, and the Paris 2024 Games just three years away, all three could soon be back on the Olympic stage.
When asked about that, McCallum was noncommittal.
She said she is “definitely taking it into consideration.”