29 Sep 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Belgium! Lynnzee Brown – A Legacy of Leadership
5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Belgium
Lynnzee Brown – A Legacy of Leadership in Denver and a New Dream on the Horizon
By Christy Sandmaier
Lynnzee Brown’s role as a longtime leader for Denver was woven together with a fighting spirit to overcome all odds time and time again. Through emotional heartbreak – her mother Tamela Brown passed away in 2019 – and two achilles tears (one in 2020 and the other 2022), she never gave up hope and never relinquished her dreams. Navigating a sixth year at Denver, Brown’s quest for herself and her team in her final season was simple: to show up and do the work.
It’s something she strives to uphold each and every day.
“We set goals at the beginning of the year, and we asked a very honest question after we set those goals, like, ‘Is this really our goal?’” Brown said. “And that means, ‘Are you willing to do the actions to back that up?’ Because anyone can set a super high goal, but if they’re not going to do the work, it negates the goal. We did 6 a.m. workouts in the fall. People might have been tired, but they showed up and they did it. Showing up and giving your all is what I noticed this year that really pushed this team over the edge.”
Over the edge and straight to the top during an incredible Regional Final on their home floor and on to Texas for Nationals for the first time since 2019. In Fort Worth, knowing her team wouldn’t quite have the scores to advance to the Four On the Floor this time, Brown performed her final floor routine with her heart and soul in a performance that epitomized an NCAA career no one could have written.
Signed, sealed, delivered, Brown is one of the very best to ever step onto the NCAA stage and it would have been very understandable if she was ready to close the chapter on competitive gymnastics. In essence, her career and her leadership is a gift to all of us and she has already left a beautiful legacy in the sport. And yet, one dream remains: representing Haiti at the Olympic Games in 2024.
“It’s every little girl’s dream to go to the Olympics, and it was something that my mom and I always [dreamed of] together, and my brother sacrificed a lot to even keep me in the sport,” she told us. “So, it’s one last push.”
Since we spoke to Brown last April, a lot has transpired.
On May 27 at the 2023 Pan American Championships in Medellín, Colombia, she took the official next step towards her dream, making her international debut and qualifying for the 2023 World Championships scoring a 48.100 with her All-Around performance. It was historic to be sure and the official beginning of a brand new dream turned reality.
In addition to pursuing her Olympic path, Brown was named assistant coach at Penn State in July.
“I am beyond excited to welcome Lynnzee to the Penn State Gymnastics coaching staff,” said head coach Sarah Brown. “I’ve known Lynnzee since she was a “baby dragon” training at Gage [club gymnastics] and I’ve been so impressed and inspired by her collegiate career. Lynnzee is truly an amazing person, who has handled various highs and lows with grace, positivity and poise. She will bring tremendous value and experience to our program and I know our athletes are going to love her.”
— Penn State Women’s Gymnastics (@PennStateWGYM) September 5, 2023
In Antwerp, Brown will take the floor in the seventh of nine subdivisions for the women, ready to take the next steps to Paris. It promises to be a moment of inspiration for all of us, transcending the sport beyond perceived age limits or boundaries once again and showing the next generation anything is possible.
While punching a ticket to the Paris 2024 Olympics is the ultimate goal, Brown wants to take in every moment of her first World Championships. “This is such a big thing,” Brown said after podium training. “I’m just taking it in. Last couple months of doing gymnastics! I always hear, ‘I miss it so much. I miss flipping, I miss getting nervous.’ So just really taking it in.”
And as she prepares to compete, she continues to lead and nurture, even stepping in to offer support to 2021 French uneven bars national champion, Kaylia Nemour, who now represents Algeria.
We had the same issue when we arrived. If anyone knows how to get in touch with Kaylia Nemour please let me know so I can share emails of people that were helpful! https://t.co/5vsst6gbJL
— Lynnzee Brown (@lynnzeeb4) September 28, 2023
With everything that lies ahead for Brown, on or off the floor, as an athlete or as a coach, her legacy is both secure, and truly only just beginning. See below for more of our conversation with Lynnzee!
*Original interview took place April 24
You left us all with such emotion at NCAAs before, during and after your floor routine, take us inside the moment…
We knew going into the last rotation that a miracle would have to happen. So we banded together and said, ‘This is for each other. This is for all the things we’ve done since the beginning of preseason.’ I took a breath before going on the floor because I knew I wasn’t going to get another moment like this. At the end, just remembering it’s for everyone and it’s also for myself. I was feeling a lot of gratitude for getting to make it this far. To still persevere and make that floor routine specifically, I was crying tears of joy, tears of proud really. I’ve never heard ‘tears of proud’ as a phrase, but I’m going to claim it.
Navigating everything you’ve been through, what do you think is inside of you that’s allowed you to get to where you are right now?
That’s a good question. I think it’s a little bit of nurture. I don’t think I was born with it. Everything that happened, even from my childhood, I was taught that you can’t give up. Things are going to be harder for some than others. How you persevere in the things that you accomplish despite that is really what I carry and where my true pride is.
You’ve come into your own in the sense that you’re very comfortable speaking your mind, speaking out for causes that are near and dear to you. Do you recognize that growth, especially in the last two years?
Yes, I agree with that for sure. What really helped me is seeing other athletes do the same, not just gymnastics. In gymnastics, it used to be very criticized to say anything, and I’m really happy to see that nature is shifting because we have so much influence and we can get more eyes on a situation than if we were to stay silent. I definitely attribute that to Margzetta Frazier at UCLA who speaks her mind. I love that for her and it encouraged me to do the same. Standing up for my own experience is also helpful (for me) and everyone else, respectively, to know the very many ways that a career can look. Whether at any end of the spectrum, the intersections don’t limit how successful you can be in gymnastics.
What advice would you offer incoming freshman student-athletes? Things that you wish you had known…
I wish somebody would have told me how hard it was. I think people, especially from the club world, they’re like, ‘oh, college is easy.’ It’s easier in some ways, but a lot harder in many others. And if someone would have been a little bit more candid with me about that, I think I would have been more prepared going in. But there are a lot of benefits and a lot of rewards on the other side of that hard work and you’re just going to have to apply yourself differently than you did in club and in high school. It was definitely all worth it. Just telling them it is going to be hard, it’s not going to be easy, and always, the most fun you ever had.
What were some of your favorite moments and how would you like to be remembered as a Denver student-athlete?
Someone that strives to be better every day, not just in the gym, but as a person, as a friend, as a teammate. I had a lot of things to learn as a leader, and the biggest thing that I take away is to be a leader, you don’t always have to be the first one to do something or to enact. Sometimes it’s being a good follower as well, never being afraid to admit when you’re wrong, and always growing. Because it’s fresh, at Regionals, seeing everyone’s face and going back and watching the videos of the moment they realized [we won], it’s something I’ll always remember as a leader – that this is something we did together.
Any final thoughts you’d like to share about this chapter of your career?
I’m just grateful that so many people supported me. I go on Twitter a lot, and I see a lot of the messages and after each injury and after the comeback and after everything, there’s so many people that I wish I could thank individually. It blows my mind that so many people even know who I am and care about my general well-being. So, I’m just grateful. I did see a lot of the messages wishing me well. After all the things [that happened to me] – it’s just motivation to get back up and do it. Not just for me, but for everyone that’s supporting me.
Stay Tuned on Instagram for announcements and updates! @InsideGym
Photo credits: Lloyd Smith for Inside Gymnastics
Subscribe now at www.shopinsidenation.com for the latest issue of Inside Gymnastics Magazine!