A Utah Red Rocks gymnast fell multiple times in two meets. Here’s why and what she’s doing about it.

Jaedyn Rucker has had some uncharacteristic performances in recent weeks, but has started to regain her form with the help of her team.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Jaedyn Rucker reacts after her vault, in gymnastics action between Utah Red Rocks and Oregon State, at the Jon M. Huntsman Center, on Friday, Feb. 2, 2024.

Jaedyn Rucker normally exudes confidence. Watch her catch serious air on a vault, or sprint into a skill during her floor exercise, and she typically will flash a bright smile on her landings.

But that natural confidence hasn’t been there lately for the Utah Red Rocks fifth-year senior.

Physically, Rucker has been 100% healthy. But the same can’t be said for her mental health.

“I just think I’ve been going through a lot outside of the gym,” Rucker said. “It’s been hard to kind of figure out how to deal with that and gymnastics at the same time.”

In the meet against Arizona State last month, she scored a 9.250 on vault and 9.025 on floor. Against Oregon State the following week, she recorded a 9.125 on floor.

That’s when Rucker went to coach Carly Dockendorf and asked for help. “From your perspective, what can I do better?” she asked.

“For all of us in life, we don’t always feel good about who we are as people,” Dockendorf said. “We have stuff that we need to work through and areas we need to grow and struggles that we all go through. She’s just going through a period of that in her life and it’s going to come out in your gymnastics or whatever sport you’re doing.”

Rucker made some changes to her practice routine. Utah gymnasts generally don’t practice both vault and floor on the same day because of how taxing on the body those events are. But she decided to incorporate some basic training and drills on floor in addition to what she works on with vault.

On the mental side, Rucker said she’s been leaning on those close to her while she works her way back into a better headspace, she said. She has also thought about talking to one of the sports psychologists the university provides.

Rucker said she can be “pretty stubborn” when it comes to consulting third parties about her mental health.

“I’ve done that in the past,” Rucker said. “If you don’t take full advantage of it, then it doesn’t necessarily help. Sometimes I don’t feel fully comfortable spilling my life to a person that I don’t know.”

Rucker said it took a lot for her to even admit she was struggling, and admitted she still isn’t all the way better.

“It’s been a long process of trying to figure that out,” Rucker said. “I still don’t have it figured out. In full transparency, I’m kind of struggling a lot. But it’s just something that everybody goes through in life. Unfortunately, mine happens to be right now.”

The process is already paying off. Against Washington on Feb. 10, Rucker had a bounce-back performance with a 9.875 on vault and 9.825 on floor. She said she went into that meet with a different, “free” mindset.

Against UCLA on Monday, she scored a 9.825 on vault. Rucker did not compete on floor in Utah’s 197.250-196.975 road win over the Bruins.

Part of what was so impactful for Rucker, she said, was Dockendorf reiterating her support “with gymnastics not even on the table,” a message she said she’ll “cherish forever.”

“If I fall, I fall and that’s OK,” Rucker said. “Carly still loves me. She still believes me. And same with the girls.”

Utah vs. UCLA meet results

Final score

Utah: 197.250

UCLA: 196.975

Top scores


• Amelie Morgan, 9.900

• Ashley Glynn, 9.850

• Jaedyn Rucker, 9.825

• Makenna Smith, 9.825


Smith, 9.900

• Morgan, 9.875

• Grace McCallum, 9.850


Maile O’Keefe, 9.975

Abby Paulson, 9.925

McCallum, 9.875


McCallum, 9.925

• Paulson, 9.900

• Jaylene Gilstrap, 9.900

• O’Keefe, 9.900