Utah gymnast Jillian Hoffman shining after injuries sidelined her for two years

The undefeated Red Rocks take on No. 13 Arizona State on Friday night

(Courtesy Utah Athletics) Utah gymnast Jillian Hoffman completes her floor routine at the Best of Utah meet. After spending two years sidelined by injury, Hoffman is healthy and has helped the No. 2 Utes to an undefeated start to the season.

Jillian Hoffman’s first foray into athletics was participating on a soccer team when she was 5 years old.

She didn’t last long in that sport, not after she attended a gymnastics practice with a friend.

“I fell in love with it,” she said. “I like the feeling of flying through the air.”

It seems Hoffman has been flying ever since.

Hoffman, a junior on Utah’s team, developed into a junior Olympic national champion by 2017.

No surprise, she earned a reputation for excelling at the explosive, high-flying events such as the vault and floor.

Her talents drew the attention of Utah coach Tom Farden, who didn’t hesitate to recruit her.

“She was one of the most dynamic gymnasts I have ever seen,” he said. “She had so much speed and her ability to make changes in the air was so impressive.”

No. 2 Utah vs. No. 13 Arizona St.

Friday, 7 p.m.

Huntsman Center

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Unfortunately, Hoffman’s chances of showing off her talents when she arrived to Utah were nixed when she was sidelined by a foot injury followed by a shoulder injury. She only competed six times as a freshman and sat out the entire 2021 season while recovering.

This year she has been the go-to replacement on the vault after freshman Kara Eaker went down in the first meet with an ankle injury.

Hoffman earned a 9.8 as a last-minute fill-in in the season opener and scored another 9.8 in Utah’s win over Oklahoma.

“It was devastating to be out the first two years but I am so excited to be back for my team this year,” Hoffman said. “It feels amazing and so good to compete.”

Hoffman admits she didn’t have much time to process what was happening in the season opener when Eaker was hurt, but that is just the kind of situation Farden preps his team to face.

“They know if I don’t like the look of something I will change it on a dime,” Farden said.

The taste of competition has seemingly inspired Hoffman since she is also pushing to break into the floor lineup.

“The explosiveness that she has is next level,” Farden said.

Unfortunately, Hoffman can no longer perform in the bars because of the shoulder injury, but rather than dwell on where she can’t compete, she is focusing on where she can help her team.

Up next for Hoffman and the Utes is the meat of the Pac-12 schedule, starting with Friday’s meet against Arizona State.

“We have good teams in the Pac-12 but we are excited to go out and show what we can do,” she said.

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