During a recent meet, Utah gymnastics coach Tom Farden planned to have Jillian Hoffman warm up with the team even though she only was performing an exhibition routine.
Utah junior Sydney Soloski sensed some of her teammates were concerned that this might limit their warm up time, so she approached Farden and suggested he move Hoffman’s warmup to last, after the rest of the athletes had done what they needed to do.
Farden made the switch and the team went on to deliver one of its best performances.
That behind-the-scenes role as a go-between with the coaches is one reason why Soloski’s value to the team goes beyond her scores.
“She could feel the vibe wasn’t right on bars and she did exactly what I want her to do,” Farden said. “I put her in that role for a reason because when they are at the chalk bowl, I don’t know what is going on and I wanted her to be the conduit for me.”
SYDNEY SOLOSKI AT A GLANCE
Vitals: Junior, 5-foot
Hometown: Calgary, Alberta
Of note: Had a career-high of 9.95 on floor at Arizona…Second-team All-American on floor in 2018…Hit 24-for-25 routines as a sophomore and was 17-of-18 as a freshman…Business administration major…Four-year member of the Canadian National Team.
Soloski, a Calgary, Alberta native, is considered one of the team leaders along with Kim Tessen and Missy Reinstadtler. Of the three she is the most vocal, a role the junior doesn’t mind owning.
“I’m a little more aggressive,” she said. “I’m not afraid to get in their faces to get the best out of them and make sure we don’t back down.”
Of course being a talkative leader is fine, but words have more impact if they come with good competitive effort. There Soloski has excelled as well, earning seven victories so far and hitting 12-of-12 routines.
Farden strategically put her as the leadoff on vault because she knows the importance of sticking and can consistently do so to start the meet.
“She is just a spark plug,” Farden said. “She has a willingness to do what it takes to help the team win on every event. In my mind it is like she is going all-around because she has such a presence on every event.”
Soloski’s go get’em personality shines through the most on the floor, where she anchors Utah’s lineup.
Soloski has earned four 9.9s or higher out of the six routines performed, including a career high 9.95 against Arizona.
Not surprisingly, Soloski said she is happy with the way her season has gone thus far.
“If you don’t back up what you say with action, it doesn’t mean anything,” she said. “You have to perform with a certain level of gymnastics to earn respect.”
Her leadership as well as her gymnastics will be tested more this week than any point thus far as the Utes travel to rival UCLA. Getting a win there is tough, but this Utah team seems to do well in difficult situations so Soloski is looking forward to the showdown.
“Cal was a good test on the road, but we have to prepare the underclassmen for competing in Pauley Pavilion,” she said. “It is our biggest rivalry in the Pac-12 so we have to be ready."
Right now there doesn’t seem to be anyone better at getting the team ready for such a contest than Soloski.
NO. 3 UTAH AT NO. 3 UCLA
When: Sunday, 4 p.m.