Rachel Baumann’s mother, Jarol, asked a tailor to cut a Florida and Georgia T-shirt in half and sew them together.
“She looked at me like I had lost my mind,” Jarol Baumann said.
Georgia gymnastics will host rival Florida on Friday at Stegeman Coliseum. GymDog sophomore Rachel Baumann’s older sister, Alyssa, competes for the Gators.
The Baumann parents travel to watch their two daughters’ individual college gymnastics meets and have yet to miss one. They will sport their custom shirts when they finally are together to watch both of them.
Then-No. 7 Georgia upset then-No. 3 Florida in 2019. Rachel Baumann contributed with a career-high 9.925 on beam. This score also allowed for Rachel Baumann’s own personal victory — she defeated her big sister in the event.
“The whole meet, she asked the team to distract her because they banter on each other,” said Georgia head coach Courtney Kupets Carter. “But they love each other. There’s this dynamic to them.”
The Baumann gymnasts compete at rival schools, but Rachel Baumann wanted to be just like her big sister growing up. Alyssa Baumann was 3 years old when she started recreational gymnastics classes at WOGA in Plano, Texas.
“I started at 18 months because of her,” Rachel Baumann said.
The sisters celebrated each other’s successes when they were at the same spot early in their gymnastics careers.
“It was competitive growing up,” Baumann said. “But not like it is now.”
The rivalry gives gymnastics a special meaning to the GymDog, and Baumann is comforted by having someone who understands SEC gymnastics’ intensity. The sisters support each other, but sometimes it includes friendly antagonization.
“After Iowa State, Alyssa was like, ‘You got a 9.25, even with a wobble!’” Baumann said. “I was like, ‘Shut up … it’s fine. I’ll take it!’ We just joke about those things with each other.”
The banter comes to a pause when Georgia prepares for Florida. Baumann tries to not get distracted during rivalry week and stays within the team.
“We exchange really nice up until that week,” Baumann said.
Even though the GymDog still carries the energy after beating her older sister in 2019, Baumann still searches for distractions and attempts to stay within her bubble.
“I get so into her routines,” Baumann said. “I feel like I’m there with her. I need to sometimes feel like I’m with the team more first, and then I can be with Alyssa.”
Both sisters specialize on beam and floor, and Baumann sees similarities in how they practice their gymnastics through their skills and finishes. The sisters even narrowed down their college search to each other’s schools.
Even though they both still compete in the SEC, Jarol Baumann says Rachel’s own personality shines through as a GymDog.
“At competitions growing up they would say ‘Alyssa Baumann’s sister wins,’” Jarol Baumann said. “At Georgia, she’s Rachel Baumann. I see a whole new person.”
The Baumann family finds other ways to celebrate the rivalry. They hosted a “house divided” tailgate in Jacksonville for the Georgia-Florida football game to honor both daughters. The rivalry brings the sisters together beyond the gymnastics mat.
“They’re 100% in each other’s corner,” Jarol Baumann said. “They’re so connected, so they know how much the other loves their school. If they’re not supporting their own, they’re supporting the other.”
Rachel Baumann added one final note before the sisters compete on Friday.
“It’s on this year,” she said.