Utah Red Rocks gymnast compares the season so far to this Taylor Swift era

Abby Paulson, a self-described Swiftie, said the Red Rocks are living a ‘reputation’-type season.

(Bethany Baker | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah’s Abby Paulson reacts after her performance on the beam as Utah hosts Stanford, NCAA gymnastics at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024.

The Utah Red Rocks were all smiles minutes after recording more than 198 points for the first time this season. They had just beaten Stanford to improve to 5-0 in the Pac-12 and were setting their sights on No. 3 Cal on the road.

Then a question came that made some gymnasts light up even more.

“If you guys had to equate the season so far to a certain Taylor Swift era, where would you guys say you guys are at?” a reporter asked Abby Paulson, Grace McCallum and Ella Zirbes.

McCallum quickly answered that she knows nothing about Swift, which promoted laughter from her teammates. Among the guffaws, Zirbes offered “reputation,” Swift’s 2017 album and sixth at the time.

Paulson, a huge Swiftie who has a floor routine with only Swift’s music, agreed.

“I feel like ‘reputation’ is a good one,” Paulson said. “You know what, we’re coming back. We’re owning ourselves, who we are as people, who we are as gymnasts.”

(Bethany Baker | The Salt Lake Tribune) A Taylor Swift flag flies as Utah hosts Stanford, NCAA gymnastics at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024.

“Not caring what people say,” Zirbes added.

When Swift released “reputation” amid waves of media criticism and a controversy that involved a 2016 phone call between her and Kanye West that Kim Kardashian later leaked, it was widely seen as Swift’s response to negative coverage of her.

Friday’s meet also served as Alumni Night for the Utah Red Rocks program. It was themed after Swift’s ongoing Eras Tour, which features songs off each of her albums to date. Young fans had the chance to make friendship bracelets — a popular trend among Swifties right now because of the the song “You’re on Your Own, Kid” from “Midnights” — and old Red Rocks rosters were displayed on the concourse of the Huntsman Center. Shirts and posters featuring Utah gymnasts were themed similar to Swift’s Eras Tour merchandise.

Paulson said she made friendship bracelets the night before the meet, and was wearing several on her wrist that fans made and threw to her during the meet. Paulson said she would consider herself a “‘reputation’ girlie” when asked what Swift era she is.

“‘Reputation’ is always misread,” Paulson said. “People think it’s like a really serious and intense album, but it’s really a love album. And I think I’m, like, outside very serious. But on the inside, I’m emotional.”