OSU gymnastics: Law the heart of the program
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OSU gymnastics: Law the heart of the program

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Jaime Law was looking forward to performing for the Oregon State gymnastics team on senior day.

It wasn’t every meet that Law, a walk-on for the Beavers, was able to get out on the Gill Coliseum floor and run through a routine.

Competition for lineup spots in all four events is very tough and Law knew early on in her time at OSU that she would spend most meets on the sidelines cheering on her teammates. But on senior day, Law was going to take the spotlight and exhibition on beam for the fans.

That moment never happened. The meet against Illinois was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the Pac-12 Championships and national meet.

“I kind of had that as my end goal for the whole season for senior year, not necessarily for senior meet but just to be able to exhibition at least either beam or bars and so that week for senior meet that was the goal,” Law said. “And the plan was for me to compete beam, so for sure that was a little disappointing because that was kind of my tangible goal that I wanted to reach by the end of the season and that didn’t quite happen.”

It was not an ending the Beavers were expecting. In a perfect world, the seniors would have gone out on a high note with a strong postseason appearance.

As disappointing as it was, Law was at peace with the development. She figured she had given gymnastics her all and was satisfied with her career.

“It wasn’t the best ending,” she said. “Of course we would have loved to have the postseason and be able to compete out there and for me to be able to compete, but I don’t have any regrets. I’m just really grateful that I got to be a part of this program.”

Born to be a Beaver

Law has been around the Oregon State gymnastics program her entire life.

Her mother is Mary Ayotte-Law, who was an Oregon State gymnast from 1979-82 and was an all-American on several events and won the NCAA floor title in 1982. Jaime’s father, Randy, is an OSU graduate.

She says there are family stories that her mother, who works the home meets, brought her to Gill Coliseum as a baby just days after birth.

“So I’ve been watching OSU gymnastics since Day 1,” Jaime Law said.

“I have a lot of good memories growing up watching the team. It’s really just such a good family environment, I feel really lucky that I got to grow up around it, looking up to all the gymnasts. They were kind of like celebrities in my mind growing up.”

Jaime and her sisters Sarah and Christina were big OSU gymnastics fans and all three were involved competitively in the sport throughout their youth.

“My sisters and I would pretend play Beavers gymnastics team and pretend that we were the gymnasts and (the OSU gymnasts) were always people that I would look up to and it’s really cool that I got to fulfill that dream and be a part of the program myself.”

OSU coach Tanya Chaplin was very aware of Jaime at the meets through the years starting when she was a baby.

“Her mom being part of the program and part of the legacy of Oregon State gymnastics, she’s been around the sport and the program for a long time,” Chaplin said. “I remember (Jaime) being a little ball of fire at our camps. She could do all kinds of things and it was just amazing to watch her and watch her grow so when she was able to be a part of our program that was exciting to see.”

There were quite a few years before Law was able to join the Beavers. She started gymnastics at age 3 and kept up with the sport even though it can be a grind.

Law attended all the OSU home meets she could as long as they didn’t conflict with one of her events. Sometimes she would watch the Beavers on a Friday and travel with her mom to compete on Saturday.

She met future OSU teammate Lena Greene during one of the area meets. Greene was competing out of Tigard for Metro Gymnastics and Law was with Peak Elite.

“She had this cute little pink leotard and she was in the same age group as me and she had this really cool kind of like cowboy routine and I was so jealous of that, of her choreography and everything,” Greene said. “Then ever since then I would see her around competitions and we were always battling it out because we were in the same age group.”

Gymnastics was sometimes a rough road for Law. She said going for college gymnastics was not a goal she set early on in her career but it was always in the back of her mind.

She had doubts about her ability and whether she could reach that level.

“I knew that it was an amazing experience of course, from what my mom had experienced, and I wasn’t always positive that it would be OSU,” Law said. “But it became more and more clear as I got to high school and the recruiting period just how awesome this program was and how much I wanted to be a part of it.”

Law’s parents were all for her to choose OSU, but they stayed out of the decision-making process.

Law said she feels lucky that she was able to find her own way and they were OK with any outcome.

“It definitely was in the back of my mind that, oh, my mom did gymnastics here and that would be really cool if I could follow in her footsteps and build on the legacy of the program,” she said.

Finding a role

Law decided to join the Beavers, but landing a scholarship to compete for the team was tough to attain.

OSU has one of the better gymnastics programs in the country and there's always stiff competition to land a spot as a scholarship athlete.

So Law arrived as a walk-on in 2017. She realized that it would be difficult for her to earn a lineup spot on any of the events.

“I definitely came in as kind of an underdog, being a walk-on,” Law said. “I kind of had to redefine what success was going to be for my career because I knew that at least for that year I wasn’t going to be the one out there competing every single week.

"So I really made it my goal to be the best teammate that I could be and whatever I could do myself to put in extra work outside of the gym or just doing extra routines and skills inside the gym, that was what kept me motivated. It wasn’t necessarily defined by whether I was going to compete or not, it was more what could I do to make the team better. That really carried me throughout the rest of the four years as well.”

Law did not appear in a meet that first season. Or her second. She was able to exhibition on beam in one meet in 2019, which was to be her lone time on the floor.

Yet her role was an important one for the Beavers.

“Jaime was one of those people that you could just look over at her and you would know that she was always working harder,” Greene said. “It was really inspiring to have her in the gym and her positive attitude, you never saw her getting down or beating herself up. She was always positive no matter what and she was always there to encourage you. It was really special to have her as my teammate.”

Chaplin described Law as the “Rudy” of the program. Rudy Ruettiger was a 5-foot-6, 165-pound walk-on defensive end for the Notre Dame football team whose hard work landed him a spot on the scout team. In his final chance to play in a home game for the Fighting Irish, coach Dan Devine sent him out for three plays against Georgia Tech. Ruettiger had a sack on the final play of the game.

“Jaime is one of those athletes that has a heart like no other,” Chaplin said. “She will work and work and work and she pushed all of our athletes so hard because they may be in lineup but they knew that she was trying to get into the lineup every single day. Things didn’t always come as easy to her, but she worked so hard to challenge them every day. She’s probably been the heart of our program for the last four years.”

Law said she could have made the decision to come back for a final season because she underwent ankle surgery during her freshman year and still had a redshirt season available.

But there’s school to finish — Law is graduating in June with two degrees — and a job in interior design to settle into with Light and Dwell. She’ll be working in Corvallis and will keep coming to the home meets.

“It seems like it’s definitely the right time to kind of close that chapter of my life with gymnastics,” Law said. “And I just have peace about knowing that I’ve done everything I could to be the best gymnast that I could be and now I’m moving on to the next phase of my life.”

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