Maryland gymnastics’ floor routines are works of art. From Reese McClure’s ‘90s hip-hop-inspired routine to Maddie Komoroski’s intense ballad-like instrumental performance, the Terps’ engage their audience while telling judges a story.

Each gymnast puts their personality into the 90-second routine, creating a cohesive theme through music and choreography. It takes them months to learn and perfect the performance.

Floor routine creation begins in the summer.

Assistant coach JJ Ferreira presents each gymnast with music ideas — anything from television shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race to pop artists like Britney Spears. Ferreira then gives the athletes time to experiment with styles and tracks.

“Every piece of floor music that you hear is custom for every gymnast,” coach Brett Nelligan said.

Next Nelligan brings in choreographers to arrange the gymnasts’ movements. He turned to Maryland gymnastics alum Leksana Andrews and former assistant coach Morgan Ross to choreograph routines this season.

As that happens, the gymnasts decide what tumbling passes and leaps to include. Each athlete implements skills that they mastered in club and high school gymnastics, Nelligan said.

[Maryland gymnastics recorded a season-best performance on uneven bars against Nebraska]

Skills integrated into the routines can change as gymnasts learn and practice. In certain cases, Nelligan will let gymnasts upgrade a skill’s difficulty or change it to fit their comfort level.

Learning the full routine with each dance element and tumbling pass on beat to the music takes around two-and-a-half hours, sophomore floor lead-off Taylor Rech said.

Rech, a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race, said Ferreira encouraged her to use the show as inspiration. She then began researching Rupaul’s famous dance moves and eventually established a fully choreographed routine.

The sophomore starts her routine standing straight with her head pointing down and her arms by her side as Rupaul’s, “Cover Girl” plays.. She strikes a few sharp poses in what she called the beginning of her drag queen performance. Rech then executes a front double full and struts down the runway after landing her pass.

She pretends to touch up her makeup and gears up for her second tumbling pass, a double back tuck.

Suddenly, the tone shifts. At the end of each round in RuPaul’s Drag Race, contestants are evaluated. Rech pretends to be one near the bottom.

[Maryland gymnastics ends losing skid, beats Nebraska 196.675-196.125]

“You see me crying a little bit, which is so hard,” she said. “My teammates are like, ‘Don’t cry!’ and I’m now laughing, but I’m trying to get into character. I’m crying, then I take a deep breath and pull myself together.”
Rech transitions into her leap to jump series, something she had to tweak while creating the process. She isn’t the most flexible gymnast, she said, but leaps have to include enough bonus points to begin with a higher starting value.

The sophomore proceeds to the floor’s corner, ready for her third and final pass. Along the way, she participates in a “lip-sync battle”, pretending to compete against another person while dancing. She tumbles in a one and a half to front layout then grooves to the final beats of the music.

Rech ends in iconic RuPaul fashion, falling on her back and fanning out her arms and legs — the death drop.

Learning her routine demanded intense preparation. The gymnast broke up each dance skill and repeated it constantly until she’d memorized it. Then comes the fun part: showing the routine to the team.

“We learn it and then we come in the next day at practice and everyone’s like, ‘I want to see it!’” Rech said.