Senior Reflections: Charly Santagado

March 16, 2017

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Rutgers gymnastics is set to host the Big Ten Championships Saturday at the RAC. It will be the final home meet for the Scarlet Knights' three-member senior class, who celebrated Senior Day at the Livingston Gym on Feb. 11. This will be the first time RU hosts a conference meet since 2006. Click here for more information.

A native of Celebration, Florida, Charly Santagado competed in 34 meets the previous three years before unfortunately suffering an injury prior to the 2017 season. She earned career highs of 9.875 on floor exercise, 9.850 on uneven bars, 9.700 on vault and 9.700 on balance beam. A philosophy major, Santagado has picked up conference all-academic status three times so far.

"Charly has a role in every floor routine that goes out there," head coach Louis Levine said. "It is a shame she wasn't able to compete this year after competing a lot for us throughout her career. But she's been great to every girl on the team and there to step up and give encouragement when needed. I know physically she hasn't able to help, but Charly has helped in numerous other ways throughout the season."

Here is Santagado in her own words on her career...

On starting gymnastics: "I started I think when I was about two. I don't really remember, but my parents tell me. I started because, I don't know they just started taking me to class. I think my mom used to do gymnastics when she was really little and she always wanted to be a gymnast, so I think that was the whole impetus for starting."

On competitive gymnastics: "I think I started competing when I was five, so that's pretty young. I mean it was level two, but I've been doing it forever. And I think I pretty much knew I wanted to do college gymnastics since I was about 11. Especially because gymnasts usually peak really young and I was training elite around that time. I think I always knew that college was the fun reward at the end of a really hard career."

On attending Rutgers: "I actually didn't really know anything about Rutgers and one of the old coaches that was here was recruiting at my gym for some other girl actually. Then she saw me and was like 'Oh, wait, I'm gonna offer her instead.' So I had never really had looked into it. But I visited kind of a lot of times because I ended up taking a gap year so I had more time, and each time I came I liked it more. I liked how it was close to New York City and how there were opportunities for artistic endeavors also."

On this season: "It's been hard not competing this year for sure, but I'm glad I got to compete most meets my other years. It's been hard injury-wise. I've been pretty injured but I mean it's definitely not sometihing I'd be willing to give up. Especially teammates-wise, I have a lot of close friends now that we're teammates. I think I'm even gonna move in with some of the seniors that graduated last year after I graduate. So it's pretty cool."

On academics: "I would say academically it's been really good. I think I've been lucky. You know, here you hear people complaining about have giant classes, but I never really had a class bigger than 50 people, so I totally lucked out. The philosophy department here is top-two in the nation and so I've gotten to work with a lot of really good professors. And dance, too, is ranked really high, so luckily all the programs I've been involved with are really good at Rutgers."

On being teammates with sister Eriel Santagado: "It's been good. There was like a time period when I was in high school and I was like 'we shouldn't go to the same school, because like we want to both experience different things.' But I'm so glad she ended up coming here. It's weird because usually people fight more when they're close, but we actually got in more arguments when she was in Florida and I was here. And now that we're back together we're closer than ever. It's a lot easier to go through some of the hard stuff when she's here."

On the future: "I'm still up in the air about it. The only thing I'm sure about is I want to pursue dance professionally. So, I think for now I'm just going to a million auditions and see what happens. And then I'm also thinking about going to grad school, but I think I'll take at least a year."

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