Posted: Feb 18, 2014 8:54 PM by Jonathan Deutsch, KOMU 8 Reporter
Updated: Feb 19, 2014 9:45 AM
COLUMBIA - The old saying goes, "Home is where the heart is."
Sarah Shire Brown, one of the assistant gymnastics coaches at Southeast Missouri State, walked into the Hearnes Center on February 7 with love and memories on her mind.
"The memories come flooding back," Brown said. "I remember where I was when certain things happened. I see certain places, and I distinctly remember how I was as an athlete."
From 2008 to 2010, Brown (formerly Sarah Shire) was a member of the Missouri Gymnastics team.
Brown competed three seasons for Missouri and quickly became a leader in and out of the gym.
"While here at the University of Missouri in 2008, I was Big 12 Newcomer of the Year," Brown said. "Then in 2009 and 2010, Big 12 Gymnast of the Year."
She is also the only Missouri gymnast to be a four-time All-American. Sarah's career high scores are:
The mid-Missouri native began her gymnastics career at the Hearnes Center when she was five years old. Eventually, Brown signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Utah, where she competed one year in 2007.
But Brown says she wasn't happy and decided Missouri was where she needed to be.
"When she came home from Utah, she was probably done with gymnastics," Robyn Shire, Brown's mother, said. "It was a long 17-hour drive."
Brown reconsidered and enrolled at the University of Missouri.
In 2010, her senior season, Brown led the Tigers to unchartered territory.
"I'd say my biggest accolade here at the university was being part of the first team to qualify for nationals in 2010," Brown said. "And we were the first three-seed to ever win a regional."
In Brown's return to the Hearnes Center, her Redhawks fell to the Tigers 194.125 to 190.900, but that didn't ruin her homecoming experience.
"Ever since I saw that we were on the schedule to come here I was excited," Brown said. "I didn't realize it was going to be as emotional of a return as it was."
With her pictures up at the Missouri Athletic Training Complex and the Tiger Performance Complex, Brown's legacy will always be evident.
"She's amazing. She's pretty much perfect in my opinion. She's going to be a legacy here," current Missouri gymnast Katelyn Trevino said. "Someone that has that ability to make that big of an impact on a program should be a legacy."
Brown could add one more honor to that legacy in the near future, as she is eligible for the University of Missouri Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in 2015.