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Local college gymnast overcomes disabilities to succeed in college
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When Trent Jarrett was cut from the University of Iowa men’s gymnastics team in 2011, it wasn’t the first time he had faced adversity in his life.

His past experiences shed light that everything would eventually work itself out, and that he would be fine. Jarrett, a 2010 graduate of Mill Creek High School and a current Hall County resident, grew up battling a hearing disorder, which caused him to start reading lips so he wouldn’t fall behind in school and gymnastics. He also suffered from dyslexia, a disorder that affects a person’s learning and reading capabilities. He overcame both disorders and qualified for college.

So being cut from a gymnastics team wasn’t going to stop him from ultimately reaching his goals.

“When I was younger, growing up with dyslexia, I always thought, ‘Oh, I should quit (gymnastics),’” Jarrett said. “And then something in my head was like, ‘go try it a little longer.’ That helped me with gymnastics. Being cut wasn’t the worst thing to happen to me. I had been through worse.”

After searching for a new school, Jarrett enrolled at the University of Illinois-Chicago and joined the Flames gymnastics team, which had also recruited him out of Mill Creek.

Since his joining the team last fall, everything has worked out just fine for Jarrett.

A redshirt freshman for the Flames this past year, Jarrett turned into one of the team’s best competitors. He participated in every meet for the team and competed in three events per meet, including his best event, the rings.

“I kind of wish I picked UIC over Iowa before, if I knew all this other stuff was going to happen,” said Jarrett, who is pursuing a Liberal Arts degree in Anthropology with a minor in Religious Studies.

“Everything worked out, though. Things are smooth sailing. My major is exactly what I wanted.”

When he arrived on campus, the coaching staff at UIC didn’t know what to expect, and they didn’t think he would be such an asset to the team. But, the coaches quickly found that Jarrett had a lot of inner motivation and talent.

“Trent is a gifted competitor and I had a feeling he could break into our lineup,” UIC men’s gymnastics head coach Charley Nelson said. “But I didn’t quite know what to expect.

“From being a guy cut at one school and then comes and competes in events for us is quite the turnaround.”

Jarrett competed in the NCAA championships as an individual this past season. He earned the honor following an impressive showing on the rings during the Eastern College Athletic Conference championships, where he moved past five competitors to earn the individual bid. At nationals, he failed to make it past the first day of competition.

His coach said he had “a good day, but it was not his best.”

That “taste” of nationals, as Jarrett described it, is providing plenty of motivation for his final three years at UIC.

“Now I know what I have to do to get there,” Jarrett said. “Now I need to push a little bit more to actually be someone there, not just be standing around. Now I want a name. That is the goal.

“I also want to get the team to the NCAAs. That is one of my big goals.”

For now, Jarrett is back in the greater Hall County area for the summer and is working at the Pro Cheer gym in Hoschton and Gymnastix gym in Buford, which is owned by his brother. He assists in training hopeful college gymnasts.

Training others is temporary, though. Soon he will return to UIC in the fall and the expectations for Jarrett will continue to rise with his success.

“We are certainly going to be counting on him,” Nelson said. “The bar is raised a little bit. It is no longer just happy to be here. We want to see where he can go and if he can be a Day 2 qualifier at the NCAA championships.”

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