Although Gators freshmen gymnast Bridgette Caquatto may be far from her hometown of Naperville, Ill., she is fitting right in at the University of Florida. Caquatto, who goes by Bridgey to her friends and family, hasn’t experienced some of the difficulties other freshmen face when they head off to college far from their home.
Instead, the gymnast from Naperville Central High School can look across the practice facility to see some familiar faces. Caquatto is practices with Pan American Games teammate Bridget Sloan and her older sister Mackenzie Caquatto.
The Caquatto sisters have been on the same team for most of their lives. In the 2011 Pan American Games, the two helped the U.S. National team achieve gold. Bridgette Caquatto placed gold in the uneven bars and all-around during the tournament.
Caquatto says having these relationships in place “puts myself in a little comfort area” and being with her sister and a previous teammate in Sloan “was another great benefit in coming to Florida.”
Although Caquatto is enjoying her time at Florida, she hasn’t been able to compete while recovering from injuries. She had multiple surgeries on her knee last year and surgery on her torn rotator cuff last summer which required physical therapy. All of the injuries and rehab have forced her to find ways to still get in work to prepare to compete for the Gators.
“I would try to work every muscle I could that didn’t affect my knee and my shoulder,” said Caquatto. “It was a challenge every day.”
But, Caquatto’s physical therapy is beginning to pay off and she was able to do a floor and uneven bars exhibition against Arkansas on Feb.25th . However, Caquatto still feels the lingering effects from the injuries.
“It didn’t hurt while I was doing stuff, but I have limited motion which affects my gymnastics a little bit and I’m trying to do as much as I can to deal with it,” said Caquatto.
While Caquatto awaits her return to competitive gymnastics, Florida Gymnastics Head Coach Rhonda Faehn compared the younger Caquatto sister to a turtle.
“Bridgey may not want to be compared to this, but in the end the turtle always wins the race and at the end she may be even further along then the rest of the freshmen,” said Faehn.
Caquatto continues to recover with the hope that soon the turtle will compete as a Gator.