LSU gymnast Livvy Dunne praises Red Rocks gymnastics in more subdued fan environment

Utah gymnasts said Dunne has brought more eyes and NIL opportunities to gymnastics

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) LSU gymnast Livvy Dunne takes a selfie with fans after a gymnastics meet between Utah, LSU, Oklahoma and UCLA at the Maverik Center, on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024.

West Valley City • Louisiana State gymnast Olivia Dunne stood on the sidelines last year in a meet at the Huntsman Center against the Utah Red Rocks. But that didn’t stop a few dozen teenage boys from cheering uproariously for her during the meet, and sparking controversy when they waited outside chanting “We want Livvy.”

In a quad meet Saturday that featured LSU, Utah, Oklahoma and UCLA — four of the most talented and prestigious gymnastics programs in the country — the environment was much more subdued. Dunne competed on floor and earned a score of 9.850.

After the meet, Dunne took selfies with and signed autographs for fans at the Maverik Center. There were some boys in the group, but no signs of potentially over-the-top behavior.

Dunne told People Magazine in November that she and the team now travel with security due to the incident in Utah last year. But, Dunne told The Salt Lake Tribune after Saturday’s meet, that is more of a precaution more than anything.

“I’ve never been in a position where I felt unsafe,” Dunne said. “It’s better safe than sorry, though. That’s why we bring security with us now. But me and my team, we just love going to different arenas and experiencing different fan bases and competing in different atmospheres and environments.”

Some Utah gymnasts didn’t seem to enjoy the environment during last year’s meet. Amelie Morgan said at the time that Dunne’s screaming fans disrespected the other gymnasts competing. Maile O’Keefe said the viral video that circulated online after last January’s meet was “kind of terrifying.”

Still, multiple Red Rocks gymnasts said Dunne has brought nothing but good to the sport of gymnastics — from a broader audience to opportunities for other gymnasts to profit off their name, image and likeness just like Dunne has.

“She brings a lot of different audiences,” O’Keefe said recently. “I think it’s great because she is part of the reason why our sport has grown so much.”

Added Utah coach Carly Dockendorf: “I think the exposure that she’s received for being an LSU gymnast is great for the sport in general. It just speaks to the interest that people are having in women’s gymnastics. So I think any media she gets and attraction she gets for that is great for the sport.”

Dunne has nearly 13 million followers across Instagram, TikTok and X. Her NIL endorsements are reportedly worth millions of dollars.

“I feel like gymnastics definitely deserves so much recognition,” Dunne said. “It’s very difficult. Just to be able to bring new eyes to the sport is awesome. Like I said, it’s quite difficult. I just think it’s really cool.”

Dunne also had some good things to say about Utah gymnastics from a competitive standpoint.

“I think that Utah obviously has quality gymnastics,” Dunne said. “That’s why we’re put in the same meet.”

Utah finished last in Saturday’s quad meet. Oklahoma won and was followed by LSU and UCLA. The Red Red struggled throughout the meet.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah cheers after Ella Zirbes performance on the vault, as the Red Rocks vs. LSU, Oklahoma and UCLA at the Maverik Center, on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024.

“I think that sometimes we can learn a lot more from not being super successful than we can from just hitting everything all the time,” Dockendorf said about Utah’s performance. “I think that we do have a lot to learn from today moving forward. Next time when we see teams of this caliber again, we’re going to be more confident moving forward.”

Meet Results

1. Oklahoma: 197.900

2. LSU: 197.150

3. UCLA: 197.100

4. Utah: 196.975

Utah Red Rocks top scores

• Camie Winger, vault: 9.950

• Abby Paulson, beam: 9.925

• Makenna Smith, floor: 9.990

• Maile O’Keefe, bars: 9.875

• Grace McCallum, floor: 9.875

• Paulson, floor: 9.875

• McCallum, vault: 9.875

• McCallum, bars: 9.850

• Ella Zirbes, vault: 9.850

• Jaylene Gilstrap, floor: 9.850