FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The Razorbacks represent the state of Arkansas.
Yet no one from the state of Arkansas has represented Razorback gymnastics since 2012.
That is until Lauren Williams suits up for the Gymbacks this season.
When asked what about the opportunity to represent the Razorbacks, Williams responded with one word:
It's an opportunity years in the making. Williams has been a gymnast for as long as she can remember.
“My parents put me in gymnastics because I was climbing over everything, crawling out of my crib all on my own,” Williams said.
She’s called Northwest Arkansas home for just as long, a Rogers native who went to trained at Aspire Gymnastics in Bentonville and attended Bentonville High School.
That connection to the area extends to the college team her family supports.
“I’ve always been a Hog fan,” Williams said. “My parents are big Hog fans.”
However, Arkansas wasn't her initial top choice for college when the recruiting process began, despite growing up close and cheering for the university.
Then, Jordyn Wieber came to town, and it changed everything.
“When Jordyn came to be head coach, I was like I wanna go to Arkansas,” Williams said. “I used to have a FatHead of her in my wall, posters of her all over my room. I was like, this is where I need to go.”
“The recruiting process with Lauren was quite simple,” Wieber said.
Williams committed to Arkansas as soon as she got her offer, choosing to stay home and close to family.
“I just knew Arkansas was where I wanted to go,” Williams said.
Not just going as an in-state kid, but as an athlete who had impressed Wieber at previous Arkansas camps.
“She was always that camper that was throwing the biggest skills and just kind of a daredevil,” Wieber said. “She was never afraid of anything and I loved that about her. Just big, powerful gymnastics.”
That powerful gymnastics style is one Williams brings to Arkansas as the first in-state recruit in over a decade.
“It’s been rare for our sport,” Wieber said of the lack of Razorback gymnasts from Arkansas. “There are not many gymnastics clubs in the state of Arkansas. There are some, but not a lot.”
“For her to be that role model, that local girl I think is incredible,” Wieber said. “And hopefully it’ll only increase the awareness and excitement around our sport in the state of Arkansas.”
The NWA native is already settling in well at her dream school.
“She is level-headed, really humble, hard-working and just excited and appreciative about everything,” Wieber said.”
Now, Williams is hoping to making an impact on the next generation of gymnasts from this state.
“I feel like I’ve been dreaming of this day since I don’t even know,” Williams said. “I remember going when I was little, watching them (Arkansas) now I just can’t believe I’m here.”
“I just can’t wait for them to watch me and support me. To let everyone know that I am from Arkansas and that I want to represent Arkansas to the best ability that I can.”
“When I hear them cheering for me, I remember what I’m doing it for, is for those little girls who look up to me.”