by Danny Brewer

Rutherford County has been blessed with many fine athletes over the years. Recent times have really magnified this as increased population and more high schools have produced talented kids in many different sports. Mainstream games like baseball, basketball, and football have put plenty of  kids in the college spotlight, but in 2021, the athlete that is perhaps shining the brightest is a gymnast from Siegel.

Hannah McCrary graduated as a Siegel Star in 2018 and dove right into college as a gymnast at the University of Missouri. Having been one of the most highly regarded youngsters in her trade in the Southeast, McCrary made the decision to head to Mizzou with big goals in mind.

“Growing up here I really wanted to be in the Southeastern Conference and I felt like Missouri was the best fit for me,” says McCrary. “Our coach (Shannon Wilker) is always pushing the program to be better and the culture here is exactly what I wanted. Everyone gets a fair opportunity and those that work the hardest everyday get the chance to perform.”

Now a junior for the Tigers, McCrary actually committed to Missouri as a freshman while at Siegel in 2015. Having built her gymnastic foundation since first toeing the tumbling mat at age 4 ½, Hannah has put in countless hours over the years with a simple goal of being the best she can be.

Currently, those efforts have earned this daughter of former Oakland high school football standout Johnny McCrary a spot on the NCAA Nationals to be held in Fort Worth, Texas on April 16. A brilliant performance in the Tuscaloosa Regional saw Hannah nail her floor routine and earn the top score with a 9.925. A true demonstration of her outstanding all-around gymnastic skills, McCrary has seemingly found her niche.

“The floor routine just comes natural to me,” says Hannah. “I have learned how to have fun with it and just be myself. Relaxing and just enjoying it all have been very important aspects in developing a good routine.”

Perhaps the most demanding of any collegiate sport, gymnastics can separate contenders from pretenders. Drive, determination, and a lot of faith has helped McCrary reach these lofty heights.

“Most people don’t realize the hard work it takes to be good in this sport,” says the psychology major. “I have practiced between 20 and 40 hours every week since I was very small. I always strive to be at that next level. Looking to take that next step while trusting in God and believing in myself is the goal. I thank God every day for the strength he has given me and the many blessings He has bestowed upon me. That faith has helped me through some tough times and now I have a chance to compete in the Nationals.”

McCrary will represent the Tigers in the individual portion of the Nationals as the Missouri team did not score well enough to advance out of the Regionals. Eager to represent her college and the folks here in Middle Tennessee, Hannah will be a shining example for all no matter what the judges score may read.

“It is an honor to represent Missouri and be part of the progress the gymnastics program has made in recent times,” says McCrary. “I have always tried to do what was best for the team and work hard every day. It has not been an easy road but I am very happy to have a chance to compete doing what I love to do.”