Last year, Justin Laury was disappointed.
Due to shoulder and knee injuries, the now fifth-year senior was forced to redshirt the season.
It turns out his stroke of bad luck was a blessing in disguise.
Because of his medical redshirt, the Marietta, Ga., native can compete on the same team as his brother, freshman Torrance, for one season.
“I just thank God for giving me the opportunity to have my final year with my little brother,” Justin said. “It couldn’t have worked out any better.”
Justin was the first of the brothers to get involved in gymnastics. He flipped all the time – in the house, in the backyard, at school. Soon his teachers began calling home to report his flips to his mother, who then enrolled him in gymnastics.
Torrance, after watching Justin practice and compete for several years, decided to follow in his brother’s footsteps. He proved to have a similar gift for gymnastics – he’s a three-time all-around state champion, and he finished third on rings and 10th in the all-around at the 2006 Junior Olympic Nationals.
Although they’re aggressive competitors in the gym, the brothers have never competed against each other. Instead of a sibling rivalry, their years together in gymnastics have been marked by mutual support for each other’s endeavors. At Torrance’s competitions, Justin would follow his brother from event to event, shouting encouragement.
When it came time for Torrance to choose his college, Michigan was always No. 1. It had a great team, a good mix of school and sports – and Justin.
“I felt like it would be kind of like old times when we used to train together in Atlanta,” Torrance said. “I was really excited to find out that he would be competing here one more year and that I’d be competing here as well.”
But while they are both extremely skilled gymnasts with positive, friendly attitudes, the brothers have distinct personalities.
“Justin is more the wild one,” said freshman Joe Levine, who has known the Laurys for several years and rooms with Torrance. “Torrance is more reserved to himself, very quiet, very polite. In the gym sometimes, if we (accidentally) get in the way . he won’t say anything. We’re trying to change that a little bit, get him to speak up a little bit.”
These same differences apply to their gymnastics.
“He’s more the type of guy where you have to egg him on in the gym to do a skill,” Justin said. “I’m the kind of guy you have to be like, ‘Hey wait, slow down! Take it a little slower.’ “
Both Justin and Torrance will be keys to Michigan’s success this season.
With Justin redshirting for the year, the team finished eighth last season – the first time Michigan had missed NCAA team finals since 1998. The brothers will add some much-needed depth on pommel horse and parallel bars, and both hope to compete in the all-around by the time the major meets roll around.
With their talent – by season’s end, the Laury brothers may share one more thing: an NCAA Championship.